The Hudson River School in Focus: Property from the Friedman Collection

The Hudson River School in Focus: Property from the Friedman Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 21. Northern Marsh: Sunset.

The Hudson River School in Focus: Property from the Friedman Collection

Martin Johnson Heade

Northern Marsh: Sunset

Lot Closed

January 20, 07:21 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 USD

Lot Details


The Hudson River School in Focus: Property from the Friedman Collection

Martin Johnson Heade

1819 - 1904

Northern Marsh: Sunset

signed MJ. Heade (lower right)

oil on canvas

8 by 16 in.

20.3 by 40.6 cm.

Executed circa 1880s.

Henry Morrison Flagler, Palm Beach, Florida (acquired directly from the artist)

George Sidney Prindle, Washington, D.C. (acquired as a gift from the above)

Private Collection, Washington, D.C. (by descent from the above)

Weschler's, Washington, D.C., 7 December 1986, lot 1291 (consigned by the above)

Charles Sterling, Philadelphia

Richard Nash, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Island Weiss Gallery, New York

Acquired from the above in December 1996 by the present owner

Margaret B. Caldwell, "Weschler's December Auction in Washington, D.C.," Maine Antique Digest, February 1987, p. 18-C, illustrated

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade: A Critical Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven 2000, no. 316, p. 280, illustrated

Roberta Smith Favis, Martin Johnson Heade in Florida, Gainesville, Florida 2003, fig. 53, pp. 95 and 97, illustrated

Poughkeepsie, New York, Vassar College, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Refining the Imagination: Tradition, Collection, and the Vassar Education, April - September 1999, no. 49, pp. 132-33, illustrated in color

Ithaca, New York, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University and Poughkeepsie, New York, Vassar College, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, A Focused Collection: The Hudson River School, April - October 2007, no. 9, pp. 4, 5, 24 and 25, illustrated in color

An intimate view of a deeply personal subject, Martin Johnson’s Heade’s Northern Marsh: Sunset occupies one extreme within his deeply idiosyncratic oeuvre. Born in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, working in New York, traveling across the United States and South America, and ultimately retiring in Florida, the humble marshes of New England were a surprising subject that make up nearly one-fifth of Heade’s output. Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. has argued for the artist’s pioneering of what proved a “new subject” in American landscape painting yet was “simply a place Heade loved: on the one hand it represented untouched nature–an ideal place for hunting and fishing–and on the other it was a natural farmland, where hay was harvested and stacked” (Exh. Cat., Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Martin Johnson Heade, 1999, p. 29). Populated by man-made haystacks which are often threatened by storms and, in the present work, with brambles growing in the left background, the marsh represented a middle-ground between wilderness and pastoral nature, a keystone in the development of American landscape painting (ibid., p. 29).

Heade painted Northern Marsh: Sunset after moving to St. Augustine, Florida in 1883. Forty miles south of present-day Jacksonville, St. Augustine had been originally settled by Spanish colonists, founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. Despite his relocation, Heade remained somewhat peripatetic in the 1880s: traveling around Florida to Jacksonville, Palatka, Enterprise, Ocala, and Waldo, and to Charleston, South Carolina and even back to the East Coast. From 1887 until his death, Heade settled in a studio behind the Hotel Ponce de Leon, a Spanish Renaissance Revival building developed by Henry Morrison Flagler, a founder of Standard Oil, the Florida East Coast Railway, as well as the cities of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Heade’s most important patron, Flager commissioned two major works from the artist in 1887 for $2,000 each: The Great Florida Sunset and View from Fern-Tree Walk, Jamaica

Flagler’s commission demonstrates the context for Heade’s landscaping painting to be conceived in pairs. In fact, Northern Marsh: Sunset forms a pendant with Florida Marsh: Dawn (lot 25 in the present sale). Flagler commissioned the set, and gifted them to George Sidney Prindle, in whose family the paintings remained for much of the twentieth century until they were auctioned at Weschler’s in Washington, D.C. Occasionally in the literature, the paintings have been subtitled “Old Life in New England” and “New Life in Florida.” Indeed, as the sun set on one phase of Heade’s life in the North, the resplendent Florida landscape and Flagler’s patronage dawned a new one in Florida.