Martin Johnson Heade USA
8-11-1819 Lumberville, USA - 9-4-1904 St. Augustine, USABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Martin Johnson Heade was an American painter known for his salt marsh landscapes, seascapes, and depictions of tropical birds as well as lotus blossoms and other still lifes. His painting style and subject matter, while derived from the romanticism of the time, are regarded by art historians as a significant departure from those of his peers.
He studied with Edward Hicks, and possibly with Thomas Hicks. His earliest works were produced during the 1840s and were chiefly portraits. He travelled to Europe several times as a young man. Friendships with artists of the Hudson River School led to an interest in landscape art. In 1863, he planned to publish a volume of Brazilian hummingbirds and tropical flowers, but the project was eventually abandoned.
Martin Johnson Heade was not a widely known artist during his lifetime, but his work attracted the notice of scholars, art historians, and collectors during the 1940s. He quickly became recognized as a major American artist. Heade's works are now in major museums and collections. His paintings are occasionally discovered in unlikely places such as garage sales and flea markets.
From the early 1860's to the early 1880s, when he began to develop his own very individual style, Heade painted coastal and inland views, floral still life's and tropical oil landscapes with hummingbirds and flowers. He continued to travel, making three trips to South and Central America, Brazil in 1863-64, Nicaragua in 1866 and Colombia, Panama and Jamaica in 1870.
Heade, who continued working until shortly before he died in 1904, had the longest career and was perhaps the most versatile of the 19th century American oil painters.
Today Martin Johnson Heade is admired for his originality and for the subtle atmospheric effects, glorious light and sumptuous warmth of his canvas oil paintings. A Heade oil painting of Giant magnolias on a blue velvet cloth was made into a USA postage stamp in 2004. Heade is now respected and admired as a remarkably talented and innovative painter and one of the worlds artist.
Among the more spectactular Martin Johnson Heade discoveries are:
Magnolia Blossoms on Blue Velvet and Cherokee Roses, were purchased at an estate sale in Arizona for $60 in 1996. They sold at Christie's auction house later that year for $937,500 and $134,500 respectively.
Two Magnolias on Blue Plush was originally purchased for $29 at a rummage sale by a Wisconsin man in 1989. It sold at Christie's auction house in 1999 for $882,500.
Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth was used to cover a hole in the wall of an Indiana resident for years. The owner became curious about the value of the painting after playing an art-related board game, and verified its authenticity with a New York art gallery. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston purchased the work for $1,250,000 in 1999.
An unnamed Martin Johnson Heade salt marsh landscape now titled "River Scene" was discovered in the attic of a Boston-area resident in 2003. It sold at a local auction house to an art dealer for $1,006,250.
In 2004 a Florida woman was informed of the Heade discovery featured on "Find!" by her son, and inquired about a small 6 by 12 inch landscape that had hung in her living room. The painting, which her late husband had purchased for a few dollars in St. Augustine in the 1970s, was authenticated as a late Heade marsh landscape. It sold at auction to an art dealer for $218,500.
A painting was found in a Massachusetts attic in 2006 and consigned to a local auction in Fall River. The painting was authenticated as a Heade, having been painted between 1883 and 1890 in St. Augustine, Florida. It sold for $198,000 on November 22, 2006.
Movement: Hudson River School, Luminism
Influences: Edward Hicks
Traveled: Brazil, France, Italy, England, Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, Jamaica