This is one of over a hundred surviving paintings that Martin Johnson Heade painted of the marshes all along the Eastern coast of the United States. This was one of his favorite subjects. He painted in a style called “Luminism.” This consists of a very horizontal composition and light and atmosphere are explored in depth. There is almost a glow. A very calm mood is rendered even though the figures are shown working. The delineation of the grass and haystacks draws the viewer’s eye in to the depth of the painting. The flat marshland seems to extend beyond the confines of the picture frame. Heade was a naturalist, so the gathering of this salt grass (a wild crop) appealed to him. The long, thin, end-of-day clods just above the horizon emphasizes the horizontality of the composition. The small delicate brushstrokes are smoothed and blended until they disappear. There is no intrusion of the artist between the integrity of the object and the viewer.
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- Titles Marsh Scene (Former title)
- Artist Martin Johnson Heade, American, 1819 - 1904
- Medium oil on canvas
- Dimensions 14 × 30 1/2 in. (35.6 × 77.5 cm) frame: 28 1/2 × 44 5/8 × 2 3/4 in. (72.4 × 113.3 × 7 cm)
- Credit Line Museum purchase with funds provided by Friends of the Museum through Vulcan Materials, 1977.192
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- Inscription Verso, top stretcher bar, inside, upper left, black crayon, 31 1/x L Verso, right stretcher bar, inside bar, upper center, back crayon: 15 [third character obscured by key] Verso, left stretcher bar, inside bar, upper center, black crayon: 1 5 5 [or S S I] Verso, bottom stretcher bar, inside bar, center left, black crayon: 31 48 L Frame, verso, left rail, bottom left, black marker on red sticker: 11-30-83 Frame, verso, left rail, bottom left, small blue circular sticker Frame, verso, bottom rail, bottom right, black marker: 1977.192
- Provenance Mackay Family, Tryon, North Carolina; inherited by Stillman Mackay, Tryon, North Carolina; dealer Coe Kerr Gallery, New York; Barbara Millhouse, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; James Maroney, New York [see note 1]; Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, as "Marsh Scene"; purchased by the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 1977
1. Ownership history from Mackay family through James Maroney according to Theodore E. Stebbins, The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade, A Critical Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000, no. 259.