Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Flights of fancy

Orchids and hummingbirds are one of nature's most dazzling combinations.

I thought I'd share this wonderful photograph taken by JanS, a contributor to Orchidboard.com. It's a great site for orchid fans, by the way.

And why not find another excuse to feature one of my favourite paintings on the same theme?

Orchids and Spray Orchids with Hummingbird is an oil painting by Martin Johnson Heade, (1819 – 1904). He was a prolific American painter known for his salt marsh landscapes, seascapes, and depictions of tropical birds (such as hummingbirds) as well as lotus blossoms and other still lifes. His painting style and subject matter, inspired by romanticism of the time, are regarded by art historians as a significant departure from those of his peers.

Heade was born in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, the son of a storekeeper. His earliest works were produced during the 1840s and were chiefly portraits. He travelled to Europe several times as a young man, became an itinerant artist on American shores, and exhibited in Philadelphia in 1841 and New York in 1843. Friendships with artists of the Hudson River School led to an interest in landscape art. In 1863, he planned to publish a volume of Brazilian hummingbirds and tropical flowers, but the project was eventually abandoned. He travelled to the tropics several times thereafter, and continued to paint birds and flowers.

Heade was not a widely known artist during his lifetime, but his work attracted the notice of scholars, art historians, and collectors during the 1940s.

He quickly became recognised as a major American artist. Heade's works are now in major museums and collections. His paintings are occasionally discovered in unlikely places such as garage sales and flea markets.

Wikimedia has a delightful selection of his works.

Orchids and Spray Orchids with Hummingbird, about 1875-90, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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