Untitled Document

Artist Biography

Martin Johnson Heed was born in August of 1819 in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. The eldest son of a large family, he received his first instruction in art from the 19th century American "primitive" painter, Edward Hicks. Within a short time his artistic expression and sophistication grew. He spent the latter part of the 1830s and early 1840s traveling around Europe, specifically England and Italy. By 1843 he returned to the United States and was living in Brooklyn where he then changed the spelling of his name from Heed to Heade.

Heade traveled the eastern United States, living in Philadelphia, Saint Louis, Chicago, Trenton, and Providence. And he made numerous sketching trips to the coastal salt marshes of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. His love of travel and distant places can be perceived in the vastness and openness of his paintings. He returned to New York in 1859, renting quarters in the Tenth Street Studio Building where he was near many artists including Frederik Church. This was the time when Heade began to embrace his own personal style and lasting interest in landscape and nature. Also, Heade's familiarity with the Hudson River School style of landscape painting was increasing during this period and its influence lasted throughout his career. In 1861 Heade left New York and headed for Brazil, where he would visit again and again, with a dream of illustrating a complete series of South American hummingbirds. While that project never saw fruition, hummingbirds remained an important visual in his work.

It is the work from the early 1860s to the early 1880s that Heade is most remembered. During this time he exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Royal Academy of London.

The work of Martin Johnson Heade is held in private collections as well as many museum collections including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), The Carnegie Museum of Art (PA), the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Yale University Art Gallery (CT), and the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design.