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    Description

    MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE (American, 1819-1904)
    Cherokee Roses in a Glass Vase, circa 1883-1888
    Oil on canvas
    19 x 12 inches (48.3 x 30.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: M.J. Heade

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Curtis H. Pettit, Minneapolis, Minnesota, purchased from the above, 1888, St. Augustine, Florida;
    Bessie Pettit Douglas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, by descent from the above, March 1926;
    Private collection, Minneapolis, Minnesota, gift from the above, December 25, 1952;
    Private collection, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    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. The exquisite Cherokee Roses in a Glass Vase, like Heade's only nine other extant vertical compositions of this tropical flower, exhibits his fascination with botanical realism - delicate petals and waxy leaves twisting to catch the light - coupled with domestic artifice.

    In his catalogue raisonné of Heade's paintings, Theodore Stebbins writes, "We shall probably never know precisely what made Heade decide to move to Florida, buy his first house, and marry for the first time at the age of sixty-four, after a lifetime of being unsettled. We can surmise from his paintings and writings that he longed to enjoy the fecundity and warmth of the tropics once again. Numerous writers and painters had preceded him South; reading the guidebooks about Florida's economic potential must have whetted his speculative instincts; seeing the other artists' paintings and illustrations of the American tropics would have inspired him to believe that he could paint them better."1 In St. Augustine, Heade befriended the Standard Oil magnate Henry Morrison Flagler, who had begun developing Florida's east coast by linking railroad lines, buying real estate, and building opulent hotels. Stebbins continues, "With the opening of the Ponce de Leon [Hotel in 1888], 'the sleepy old town of St. Augustine [was] completely transformed,' as was Heade's life. With the patronage of Flagler and many wealthy visitors, Heade enjoyed financial security for the first time. Flagler himself purchased a dozen or more of Heade's paintings, a rich representation of his work including a northern marsh scene, an orchid, and several pictures of roses and Cherokee roses. However, even more important than Flagler's patronage was the fact that some fifty thousand visitors came each year during the season."2

    Cherokee Roses in a Glass Vase bears a letter on its verso indicating that it was originally purchased directly from Heade by one such visitor to St. Augustine "during the season," Curtis H. Pettit, a pioneer settler of Minneapolis who had amassed a fortune in the railroad, iron, and lumber industries. Penned in 1952 by his daughter Bessie Pettit Douglas, this letter, as well as Bessie's 1949 published memoir, details her family's 1888 cross-country adventure by steamship and train to St. Augustine. On this trip, they met Heade in his studio, designed as a tourist attraction behind the newly opened Ponce de Leon, and took the painting home as a token of exotic Florida.

    1T. Stebbins, The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade, New Haven, 2000, p.145-6.
    2 Ibid., p. 153.

    We would like to thank Dr. Theodore Stebbins, Jr. for examining this work in the original and confirming its authenticity. This work will be included in the next edition of his Martin Johnson Heade catalogue raisonné. A letter from Dr. Stebbins confirming the authenticity of the work accompanies the lot.





    Condition Report*: Re-lined canvas; scattered minor points of in-painting on petals of left flower; small circle of in-paintign 1-inch above signature; two small points of in-painting (circles) on the center left edge above flowers. Framed Dimensions 22 X 15 Inches
    *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. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. 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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    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    15th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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