Martin Johnson Heade

(1819-1904)

Martin Johnson Heade was the consummate painter of the red rose in nineteenth century American art. He painted the subject for nearly forty years and treated it in a variety of settings and surrounded by an array of accouterments. For Heade the red rose was the symbolic flower of love, passion and ardor. Heade remarked: “Every man who possesses a soul has loved once, if not a dozen times, for passion was created with man, and is part of his nature. . . . As soon as the affectionate and sensitive part of my nature leaves me, I shall consider the poetry of my existence gone, and shall look upon life as a utilitarian, bargain and trade affair; for that poetry is the only source of real happiness we have, and I care not whether it is laughed at or acknowledged" (Heade is quoted in: Robert G. McIntyre, "Martin Johnson Heade" [New York, 1948], p. 2).