Orchids in a Jungle
Martin Johnson Heade, American, 1819 - 1904
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A craze for orchids swept Europe and the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, as illustrated by this painting's lush hybrid of landscape and still life. The tropical bloom often served as an allusion to feminine sexuality for artists and writers of this era, and probably would have been read as such by Martin Johnson Heade's contemporaries.
Heade began a series of orchid and hummingbird paintings after his final trip to South America in 1870, demonstrating his dedication to birds and flowers modeled from nature that he often placed in settings both evocative and fantastic. The coming storm adds a sense of foreboding to this otherwise calm scene.