Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) Autumn in the Marsh 13 x 26in (Painted circa 1866-76.)

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Lot 44
Martin Johnson Heade
(1819-1904)
Autumn in the Marsh 13 x 26in

US$ 200,000 - 300,000
£ 150,000 - 230,000

American Art

18 May 2016, 14:00 EDT

New York

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, UPSTATE NEW YORK
Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)
Autumn in the Marsh
signed 'MJ Heade' (lower left)
oil on canvas
13 x 26in
Painted circa 1866-76.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The artist.
    Joseph Bradley Heed, half-brother of the artist.
    Charles Rittenhouse Heed, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of the above, by descent.
    Charles Heed, Devon, Pennsylvania, son of the above, by descent.
    Private collection.
    with Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York.
    Acquired by the present owner, circa 1980s.

    Exhibited
    New York, Andrew Crispo Gallery, The Splendor of the Nineteenth Century in America, December 18, 1980-January 15, 1981, no. 17.

    Literature
    T.E. Stebbins, Jr., The Life and Works of Martin Johnson Heade, New Haven, Connecticut, 1975, p. 252, no. 205, illustrated.
    T.E. Stebbins, Jr., The Life and Works of Martin Johnson Heade: A Critical Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, Connecticut, 2000, p. 239, no. 152, illustrated.

    In the fall of 1858, Martin Johnson Heade secured the last open studio at the Tenth Street Studio Building in Manhattan. Considered by others to be the least desirable of spaces due to its southern exposure, Heade was instead thrilled with his placement. During this period of artistic prosperity, the creative space was overflowing with nineteenth century and Hudson River School painters allowing Heade to encounter and befriend other like-minded contemporaries.

    While many of these artists shared inspiration found in locations and subjects, Heade was divergent. He gave equal opportunity to both landscape and still-life themes and he sought out niches within those categories allowing his work to stand out amongst other artists of that period. One of the subjects that Heade devoted extensive exploration and development to, more so than any other nineteenth century painter, was that of Northeastern marshland.

    Beginning in 1859, only one year after moving his studio to Manhattan, and until 1863, when the artist commenced an extended trip to Brazil, Heade rendered a body of work that is today referred to as his "early" marsh pictures. During this period, the artist experimented with marsh imagery on an expedient level, sometimes executing and augmenting the paintings with the light of a sunrise or, alternatively, the warmth of a sunset.

    In the subsequent years of 1863 to 1866, Heade's marsh pictures continued to evolve in relation to their earlier counterparts. With time, he was able to perfect his dramatic, storm-forming skies and settle into a more vivid range of atmosphere. While very few of the Heade marsh pictures are dated, the present work has been assigned the range of circa 1866-76 by scholar T.E. Stebbins and, accordingly, appears to be more mature than those of the earlier period.

    Noticeably more pronounced than other works of the subject, the mountain range in the background of Autumn in the Marsh ungulates in a fashion complimentary to the hay stacks and reflects the colors of fall in New England. The foliage and warm autumnal colors, also represented in the foreground, lead one to inherently consider this a Massachusetts scene (the artist's favorite marshes to paint included those of Newbury and Newburyport) yet his exploration of Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey and Rhode Island make that calculated assumption difficult to confirm. The haystacks, varying in size, hold a tremendous amount of detail, balancing out the heavy foliage on the opposite side of the winding stream. As that stream works its way back through the marsh it creates a divide between unbridled nature and its calm, organized and developed counterpart.

    Martin Johnson Heade, who prided himself on originality, embraced the marsh subject for nearly fifty years with more enthusiasm and dedication than any of his contemporaries. While the untrained eye might argue that this body of work is repetitive at first blush, it is obvious that each of Heade's marsh scenes holds a unique application of the subject – Autumn in the Marsh being no exception.
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