Martin Johnson Heade
1819-1904 | American
Red Rose in a Standing Vase
Signed and dated "M J Heade 1883" (lower left)
Oil on board
This stunning oil on canvas represents the great Martin Johnson Heade's lifelong fascination with the natural world of flora and fauna. The celebrated landscape and still life painter devoted his career to capturing the beauty of nature on canvas, and his greatest achievements are his depictions of flowers such as this. Exactingly rendered with the precision of a naturalist, this still life of a rose with its crimson petals shows his mastery over texture and color.
By the time this work was completed in 1883, Heade was well established as a painter of both landscapes and still lifes. It was also the year he married and moved to St. Augustine, Florida, where he experienced a period of renewed creativity and well being in his new tropical setting. The rose, with its illusions to romance, its intoxicating fragrance and its dramatic red hue, was the perfect subject for this stage in his life. Not only does he capture the bloom with a lush and sensuous beauty, but he also imbues the work a sense of mystery that is enhanced by the darkened setting. In its seeming simplicity, the still life reveals the subtle complexity of Heade's best works.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1819, Heade received his earliest artistic training from the painter Edward Hicks. At the age of 19, he took his first trip abroad to live in Rome for two years. Upon his return in 1841, he exhibited for the first time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and just two years later showed a portrait at New York's National Academy of Design. By the mid-1850s, Heade turned away from the portrait painting that dominated his early career, instead experimenting with landscape under the tutelage of Frederic Edwin Church.
Not soon after, Heade also began his pursuit of still life painting, becoming the only artist of his generation to be proficient in both genres. By the 1880s, he was well established and had earned the patronage of Henry Morrison Flagler, a wealthy oil and railroad magnate who would purchase several dozen of his works over the next decades. Today, Heade's paintings can be found in important museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the North Carolina Museum of Art, and many others.
Board: 16" high x 8" wide
Frame: 27 3/4" high x 19 3/4" wide
The Life and Works of Martin Johnson Heade, New Haven, 1975, by T.E. Stebbins, p. 258, no. 234 (illustrated)
The Life and Works of Martin Johnson Heade: A Critical Analysis and a Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 2000, by T.E. Stebbins, pp. 155, 327, no. 511 (illustrated)