Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)

Landscape, portrait, and still life painter, poet, and naturalist, Martin Johnson Heade is considered one of the most important American Romantic painters of the 19th Century and one of the major figures in the development of Luminism. Heade was born in Pennsylvania in 1819. He received his first art training around 1838 from local painters Edward and Thomas Hicks. His work was first exhibited at the Artists Fund Society in 1841, and subsequently at the Artists Fund Society; National Academy of Design; Westminster Gallery, Providence; Brooklyn Art Association; and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

In 1858 Heade took a studio in the Tenth Street Studio building in New York City. He also kept a studio in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1863 he visited Brazil, followed by additional painting trips to Nicaragua, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Jamaica, and later to British Columbia, California and Florida. During his many travels, Heade closely observed the local flora and fauna, and painted both small detailed paintings of hummingbirds and orchids, and large landscapes, all of which were positively received in New York and Boston. Although Heade traveled throughout the world, the time he spent living and working in Rhode Island in the late 1850s, 1860s, and early 1870s had the greatest impact on his work. His early landscapes were roughly imitative of the Hudson River School. Inspired, however, by the rich natural beauty and the unusual qualities of light and atmosphere in the Narragansett Bay region, Heade began to develop his mature Luminist style.

During the early 1880s Heade resided in New York and Washington D.C. In 1883, and newly married, the artist settled in St. Augustine, Florida. In his two decades in St. Augustine, Heade painted Cherokee roses, orchids, and magnolias, often depicting the same flower again and again in various stages of bloom. Heade’s work can be found in the collections of many major American museums. He died in St. Augustine in 1904.

Newport Coast 1874

by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)

Medium DetailOil on canvas
Dimensions51 x 72 inches
Signed LocationSigned and dated, lower left
Date Created1874
ProvenanceLouisville Liberty National Bank & Trust Co., Kentucky;
with Christie’s, New York, May 31, 1985, lot 103;
Louisville Liberty National Bank & Trust Co., Kentucky;
with Tilden-Foley Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana;
Private Collection Coral Gables, Florida;
William Vareika Fine Arts, Newport, Rhode Island;
Nicolas Cage, Middletown, Rhode Island
Rhode Island Fine Art Consignment LLC
LiteratureTheodore E. Stebbins, Jr. The Life and Works of Martin Johnson Heade. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975. catalogue 175, illustrated;
J. Gray Sweeney. “A ‘Very Peculiar’ Picture: Martin Johnson Heade’s Thunderstorm over Narragansett Bay.” Archives of American Art Journal 28, 4 (1988): 11-12;
Sarah Cash. Ominous Hush: The Thunderstorm Paintings of Martin Johnson Heade. Fort Worth, TX: Amon Carter Museum, 1994. 52;
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., et al. Martin Johnson Heade. Exhibition catalogue. Boston, MA: Museum of Fine Arts, 1999. 17;
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade: A Critical Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. catalogue 233. 259-60, illustrated.

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