Martin Johnson Heade

Martin Johnson Heade

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Martin Johnson Heade

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Martin Johnson Heade (August 11, 1819 – September 4, 1904) was a prolific American painter known for his salt marsh landscapes, seascapes, portraits of tropical birds, and still lifes. His painting style and subject matter, while derived from the romanticism of the time, is regarded by art historians as a significant departure from that of his peers.

Stylistic classification

Art historians have come to disagree with the common view that Heade is a Hudson River School painter, a view given wide currency by Heade's inclusion in a landmark exhibition of Hudson River School landscape at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1987.

The leading Heade scholar and author of Heade's catalogue raisonné, Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., wrote some years after the 1987 exhibition, "Other scholars—myself included—have increasingly come to doubt that Heade is most usefully seen as standing within that school."

According to the Heade catalogue raisonné, only around 40 percent of his paintings were landscapes. The remaining majority were still lifes, paintings of birds, and portraits, subjects unrelated to the Hudson River School. Of Heade's landscape, perhaps only 25 percent treated traditional Hudson River School subject matter.

Heade had less interest in topographically accurate views than the Hudson River painters, and instead focused on mood and the effects of light. Stebbins wrote, "If the paintings of the shore as well as the more conventional compositions...might lead...
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