Tag Archives: Luminism

#FineArtFriday: Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds by Martin Johnson Heade

MJ_Heade_Passion_Flowers_and_HummingbirdsArtist: Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904)

Title: Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds

Genre:  floral painting

Date: circa 1870–83

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 39.3 cm (15.5 in); Width: 54.9 cm (21.6 in)


About this painting, via Wikimedia Commons:

[1] In Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds, Heade depicted two snowcap hummingbirds, small black-and-white birds found in Panama, and the most brilliantly colored species of passionflower, Passiflora racemosa, in a steamy, lush jungle setting.

The passionflower is so named because missionaries saw correspondences between the parts of the flower and the Passion (or sufferings) of Christ. For example, the ten petals represent the ten apostles present at the crucifixion, the corona filaments resemble the crown of thorns, and the three stigmas relate to the nails.

In this work, Heade successfully combined his scientific interests and his aesthetic sensitivity. He rendered the birds and the passionflowers accurately in a close-up view but also gracefully composed the winding stems across the surface of the picture and contrasted the cool greens and grays with the dazzling red of the flowers.

Although Heade was one of the first to reflect Darwin’s theories in his paintings of flowers in their natural habitats, other artists were subsequently affected by Darwin’s view of the vitality of plants and the interaction of plants with their environment. [1]

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

[2] Martin Johnson Heade (August 11, 1819 – September 4, 1904) was an 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, while derived from the 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. He studied with Edward Hicks, and possibly with Thomas Hicks. 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 married in 1883 and moved to St. Augustine, Florida. His chief works from this period were Floridian landscapes and flowers, particularly magnolias laid upon velvet cloth. He died in 1904. His best known works are depictions of light and shadow upon the salt marshes of New England.

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 recognized as a major American artist. Although often considered a Hudson River School artist, some critics and scholars take exception to this categorization. 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. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:MJ Heade Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:MJ_Heade_Passion_Flowers_and_Hummingbirds.jpg&oldid=577409420 (accessed July 29, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Martin Johnson Heade,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Martin_Johnson_Heade&oldid=1013422150 (accessed July 29, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: A View of a Lake in the Mountains by George Caleb Bingham

 

  • Title: A View of a Lake in the Mountains
  • Artist: George Caleb Bingham
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Date: between circa 1856 and circa 1859
  • Dimensions: Height: 53.9 cm (21.2 ″); Width: 76.5 cm (30.1 ″)
  • Current Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

What I love about this picture:

This scene depicts an hour of utter serenity in the turbulent life of the artist. The late afternoon sunlight falls gently on the rocky path above the calm waters. Shadows fall in all the right places but don’t darken the moment.  There is a dreamlike quality to the day, as if the artist painted his deepest wish. This is a pleasant, restful painting.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

George Caleb Bingham (March 20, 1811 – July 7, 1879) was an American artist, soldier and politician known in his lifetime as “the Missouri Artist”. Initially a Whig, he was elected as a delegate to the Missouri legislature before the American Civil War where he fought the extension of slavery westward. During that war, although born in Virginia, Bingham was dedicated to the Union cause and became captain of a volunteer company which helped keep the state from joining the Confederacy, and then served four years as Missouri’s Treasurer. During his final years, Bingham held several offices in Kansas City, as well as became Missouri’s as Adjutant General. His paintings of American frontier life along the Missouri River exemplify the Luminist style.

Bingham ran for election as a Whig to the Missouri House of Representatives the following year. He appeared to have won in 1846 by 3 votes but lost in a recount. In a reprise of the election in 1848, Bingham won the seat by a decisive margin, becoming one of the few artists to serve in elected political office. He actively opposed the pro-slavery “Jackson resolutions” in 1849, although their proponent was also a resident of Saline County. He would also represent Missouri’s eighth district at the Whig National Convention in June 1852. Bingham’s political interests would be reflected in his vivid paintings of frontier political life.

About the Luminist style, via Wikipedia:

Luminism is an American landscape painting style of the 1850s to 1870s, characterized by effects of light in landscape, through the use of aerial perspective and the concealment of visible brushstrokes. Luminist landscapes emphasize tranquility, and often depict calm, reflective water and a soft, hazy sky.

As defined by art historian Barbara Novak, luminist artworks tend to stress the horizontal, and demonstrate the artist’s close control of structure, tone, and light. The light is generally cool, hard, and non-diffuse; “soft, atmospheric, painterly light is not luminist light”. Brushstrokes are concealed in such a way that the painter’s personality is minimized. Luminist paintings tend not to be large so as to maintain a sense of timeless intimacy. The picture surface or plane is emphasized in a manner sometimes seen in primitivism. These qualities are present in different amounts depending on the artist, and within a work.

Luminism has also been considered to represent a contemplative perception of nature.

Novak states that luminism, of all American art, is most closely associated with transcendentalism. The definitional difficulties have contributed to over-use of the term.[5]

The artists who painted in this style did not refer to their own work as “luminism”, nor did they articulate any common aesthetic philosophy outside of the guiding principles of the Hudson River School.


Credits and Attributions:

A View of a Lake in the Mountains by George Caleb Bingham, via Wikimedia Commons.  Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain].

Wikipedia contributors, “George Caleb Bingham,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_Caleb_Bingham&oldid=900386053 (accessed June 6, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Luminism (American art style),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Luminism_(American_art_style)&oldid=886912140 (accessed June 6, 2019).

 

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