Birth Year : 1819|
Death Year : 1904
Country : US
Martin Johnson Heade was born in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. He studied portrait painting under the Quaker artists Edward and Thomas Hicks. He began his professional career as a portrait artist while still in his twenties, supporting himself while traveling to France, Italy and England to study and to refine his skills.
In the 1850's, Heade abruptly changed course. He moved to New York City where he acquired a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building, near landscape painters Frederic Edwin Church, John C. Kensett, and Fitz Hugh Lane. He gave up portraiture and began to experiment with landscapes and shore scenes. A deep reverence for nature attracted him to the Luminist school of painting and, along with Kensett, Lane and Sanford Gifford, Martin Heade became a key figure in this movement. These artists experimented with colored light as it affects the atmosphere of a painting. Luminism, in its concern with the effect of light, is now seen as a precursor of Impressionism. Heade's shore scenes and landscapes are rich in color, and convey a mood by color contrasts and elongated forms, though they forsake realistic detailing.
Heade's interest in hummingbirds has been characterized as an obsession. In 1863, he went to Brazil to prepare the illustrations for a book that was never published. By the 1870's, he had a number of paintings in various combinations of orchids and hummingbirds, all in the luminist style. He moved to St. Augustine, Florida in 1885 painting seascapes and birds until he died, nineteen years later, in 1904.
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