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Sunset, Haywagon in the Distance

Martin Johnson Heade

About 1876-82

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.

  • Titles Sunset, Haywagon in the Distance (Proper)@Landscape Scene (Former title)@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
  • On View