Sunrise On The Marshes

Martin Johnson Heade

American, 1819 - 1904

Sunrise on the Marshes, 1863

  • On View

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 26 1/4 × 50 3/8 in. (66.7 × 128 cm)
Image: 33 3/4 × 56 5/8 in. (85.7 × 143.8 cm)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Richards through the Bray Charitable Trust, 1963.5

Despite a fleeting nature, Martin Johnson Heade exhibited great consistency in his choice of subjects. Once he arrived at artistic maturity, he narrowed his focus to painting floral still lifes; landscapes, a group of which were inspired by travel to the tropics; close-ups of flora and fauna in nature; and, the subject for which he is most noted, marsh scenes depicting areas in the Northeast and Florida. Sunrise on the Marshes dates from 1863, four years after he first dealt with this type of landscape, and the sophistication of the work shows how rapidly he refined the paradigm. The expansive voids of space, exaggerated horizontality, and warm glow of light are characteristic of his marsh compositions. Despite the use of wide panoramic views, Heade instills a sense of intimacy and quietude. It becomes apparent that the works are a vehicle for the artist's exploration of subtly nuanced light effects. The minimal scenes often include just the most basic elements--water, land, and sky--with only an occasional visual interruption of cows, figures, boats, trees, and, most often, haystacks. Sunrise on the Marshes is notable for its prominent placement of the figures, which are larger in scale than those usually seen in Heade's landscapes.

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