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Martin Johnson Heade

August 11, 1819 - September 4, 1904


Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) was an American painter born in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. He was trained by painter Edward Hicks, whose influence can be seen in his early portraits and genre paintings. He first exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1841 and continued to show his work afterward. In the mid-1850s, Heade shifted his direction from portraits to landscape paintings and still lifes, with a special focus on seascapes. He settled in New York in 1859, where he became good friends with fellow artist Frederic Edwin Church. Church encouraged him to travel to South America and he did so three times, starting in 1863. Focusing more on simple vistas, Heade made a series of small paintings while in Brazil he titled The Gems of Brazil and began to include tropic motifs in his work, such as hummingbirds and orchids. After living an itinerant lifestyle and traveling extensively, Heade settled for good in Saint Augustine, Florida in 1883. Often linked to Luminist painting, he was recognized for his skill in depicting varying lighting effects, ambiance, and weather. His art remained mostly forgotten until the 1940s when there was a revival of interest in American painting.

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