Friday, December 11, 2009

Martin Johnson Heade

Had a home on San Marco Avenue
Henry Flagler was sponsor and patron
Painted in public throughout St. Augustine
Martin Johnson Heade as a Young Man, by Thomas Hicks, early 1840s,
Valuable Heade Painting Found at Flea Market!
see previous story
Possibly valued at $200, 000+ Further inspection needed
Jacksonville, FL (Vocus) December 10, 2009 -- A retired military man in Jacksonville, Florida has recovered a Martin Johnson Heade nineteenth-century oil painting at a local flea market. The painting is signed by the artist, and features the now-extinct Dusky Seaside Sparrow (Black Shore Finch.)
Martin Johnson Heade was a prolific American painter known for his salt marsh landscapes, seascapes, portraits of birds, and still life. Art historians consider him one of the most important American artists of his generation.
While rummaging through paintings at a flea market, Mr. Victor Hazon Hall spotted the 18”x14” oil painting, among stacks of reproductions.
“I immediately noticed the beauty of this painting, and as I turned it around, I was shocked to see the signature of Martin Johnson Heade on the painting’s stretcher,” said Hall. Research proved the signature is consistent with other Johnson Heade works of art. “I am calling this painting the Last Dusky on Earth. I believe this painting is destined to be the greatest bird and floral work done by Johnson Heade,” said Hall.
The Dusky birds are prominent in Hall’s recovered composition. Throughout his life, Johnson Heade was devoted to protecting bird species. The Dusky bird is now extinct due to encroachment on its habitat. The Dusky was found in only one place on earth, Merritt Island near St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine was Mr. Heade’s home from 1883 until his death in 1904.
The recovered painting’s colors are consistent with other paintings by the artist, as evidenced in the identical color and structure of the hay in the bird’s nest. The dying flower in the painting may be a metaphor that this particular species’ days were numbered. The Dusky was the nation’s first bird to become extinct after the list was created in 1966.
Hall submitted the painting to testing by a well-known art conservation restoration center in Atlanta. The results confirmed the original integrity of the oil painting. The painting, ground, coating, tabbing and stretcher are consistent with confirmed works by Johnson Heade. Hall believes further forensic testing can provide written proof of his painting’s authenticity.


  1. This a great find as I have researched the bird. This would be of iconic proportion to our country.

  2. Time will tell.....further authenticity tests are needed.....Conservators help but better keep their hands off. Xrays and detailed study by experts still needed. If authentic it can easily reach over 500k in value.

  3. GT... this is a great comment...however, the owner of this painting is willing to submit to any testing needed upon demand at any forensic laboratory that handles him and ask him...he is not the type to attempt to fake anything!

    The people of St. Augustine should be asking about this painting and the theory behind he is positive that it is a HEADE...but, if the theory of the birds is true...then this is MONUMENTAL for St. Augustine!

  4. Dear Plaza news,

    the owner of the painting is willing to allow a scienticfic laboratory

    analysis of the Martin Johnson Heade painting by any laboratory that

    specializes in forensic art for anyone interested in the painting...this

    is not a problem.

    He is willing and available for discussion...

    Victor H. Hall

  5. The recent advances in computer forensic science to authenticate painting is a good thing as this reduces chance of corruption in the art world as was the case with a little old lady that was cheated out of her HOMER!