MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE
1819-1904 Heade's radiant and meticulously rendered landscapes exemplify the luminist style, in which the artist's primary concern is to depict the subtleties of light and atmosphere rather than the landscape itself. Heade was particularly drawn to the shores and salt marshes of coastal New England (and later Florida), painting them under varying weather conditions and at different times of day. Most often painted in a horizontal format, Heade's works possess an acute clarity and finely tuned visual intensity that transcend their seemingly ordinary subject matter. An inveterate traveler and dedicated naturalist, Heade traveled several times to Central and South America, producing botanically detailed works of native hummingbirds in tropical settings, often in combination with orchids. Among his other subjects were precisely rendered floral still lifes (often including magnolias, roses, and Cherokee roses), portraits, and genre scenes.
Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Heade studied for a time with the folk artists Edward and Thomas Hicks before spending several years in Europe. As a practicing artist, Heade spent time in and around Boston, New York, St. Louis, Chicago, California, and the Washington, D.C. area, in addition to his trips to Central and South America, the Caribbean, and British Columbia. Attracted to lush tropical settings, he moved permanently to St. Augustine, Florida, in 1885, where he enjoyed the patronage of noted industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler.