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Orchids in a Jungle

Martin Johnson Heade, American, 1819 - 1904

Made in United States, North and Central America

c. 1871-1874

Oil on canvas

16 3/16 x 20 1/4 inches (41.1 x 51.4 cm) Framed: 22 × 25 inches (55.9 × 63.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 216, American Art, second floor (McCausland Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Charlotte Dorrance Wright, 1978

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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.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.