A Dash of Art History

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There’s something incredibly eerie about Martin Johnson Heade’s Cattleya Orchid and Three Hummingbirds. Painted in 1871, it is part of a series of paintings Heade completed of humminbirds and flowers in Brazil.

The National Gallery of Art writes: “Perhaps inspired by the writings of Charles Darwin, the artist studied these subjects in the wild during several expeditions to South America.”

It clearly isn’t, however, a painting directly from life.

And that’s where the eeriness comes in.

With its sudden leap from close-up still life to distant landscape, its vivid colors, and its ambiguous lighting, Cattleya Orchid seems simultaneously plausible and imagined, resulting in a surreal compromise.

The shock of bright blue sky behind a grey-brown and vine-covered branch heightens the effect.

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No, seriously.

Give me ideas. There's way too much art in this world, and I'm never sure what to write about. It might as well be something you're curious about, dear reader. Or tell me I'm wrong, or ask me questions, or tell me things.


Whatever you'd like.