DescriptionThe Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Collection
MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE (American, 1819-1904)
Cherokee Roses on a Purple Cloth, 1894
Oil on canvas
10-1/8 x 18-1/8 inches (25.7 x 46.0 cm)
Signed lower right: M.J. Heade
Inscribed and dated verso on upper stretcher: March 1894 St. Aug...[ustine, Florida]
Private collection, Boston;
Boston art market, 1983;
with Spanierman Gallery, New York, 1984 (label verso);
Private collection, Texas, 1985;
with Spanierman Gallery, New York;
Purchased from Berry-Hill Galleries, New York (label verso), September 1, 1989.
"American Paintings VI," Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, 1990, pp. 56-7, ill;
B. Weber, "American Beauty: The Rose in American Art, 1800-1920," Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, 1997, pl. 16 ill;
T. Stebbins, The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade, New Haven, 2000, no. 577, p. 342.
Martin Johnson Heade painted Cherokee roses (Rosa laevigata) for twelve (1883-1895) of the last twenty years of his artistic career (1883-1904), after he had settled permanently with his new bride in St. Augustine, Florida. The white star-shaped flowers of this vigorous climber with their frilly edges and distinctive yellow centers became a favorite subject of his late still lifes, along with another striking southern blossom, the Magnolia grandiflora. Of the 19 extant oil paintings of Cherokee roses by Heade listed in Theodore Stebbins' catalogue raisonné, nine are vertical compositions showing the flowers in clear glass vases, while ten are horizontal and present the motif more reductively - as a sprig or two resting on a covered ledge of contrasting color. Of the 19 paintings, only four are dated (1887, two in 1889, and 1894), making the present work in the Buchanan collection the last known dated example. As Heade explored the Cherokee rose as an artistic motif over the course of a decade, he seems to have abandoned the glass vessel altogether as a means for presenting it, as well as the vertical format. His horizontal arrangements of the flowers in a much shallower space awarded more attention to the plant itself.
Heade's Cherokee Roses on a Purple Velvet Cloth of 1894 in the Buchanan collection is an iconic example of the artist's most refined treatment of the motif. While spare, the effect is sumptuous because the design is so focused, the color so saturated, and sensual textures so lovingly described. Even though only three of the flowers are completely open, only two are oriented frontally, and most of the arrangement is devoted to more than two dozen glossy leaves, all the twists and turns of the stems, leaves and petals into and out of the light show this to be an elaborate intellectual exercise.
Theodore Stebbins offered this assessment of the importance and excellence of Heade's late still lifes: "If Heade was a landscape painter who also painted some excellent still lifes during his New York period, it could be said that during the last twenty years of his life he became a master of the floral still life who also made some fine sunsets and tropical views. In Florida, he executed more than twice as many floral paintings as landscapes, and it is clear that in the late years he poured much of his energy and inventiveness into the floral compositions. Happily married, living a settled life, catering to wealthy vacationers, Heade lavished as much time and skill on these pictures as on the best of his renderings of approaching showers over the Newburyport marshes or his powerful orchid and hummingbird paintings of the 1870's" (Stebbins, 2000, p. 159).
Under visual examination the painting appears to be in excellent condition. The original canvas is not relined, and is flat and plane with no distortions. It remains on the original wood stretcher. Under UV light, it appears that the original oxidized varnish has been removed. The signature in the lower right remains under the original varnish and is highly visible under UV light. The surface has a nice sheen and is varnished with an unknown organic varnish. This report was completed by Carlos Espinosa, CIPP at Las Negras Studio, LLC Dallas, TX
*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.
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