Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819 – 1904) painted this tropical vignette circa 1875 – 85. This vibrant oil-on-canvas work measures 20 x 12 inches (50.8 x 30.5 cm), and it is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, New York City, in Gallery 760.
Heade was familiar with the work of Charles Darwin, and he was passionate about the study of natural history. From 1880 to 1904, Heade contributed more than one hundred letters and articles on hummingbirds and related topics to “Forest and Stream,” according to The Met. He painted many landscapes with hummingbirds, beginning as early as 1862, but most of these works dating between 1875 and 1885, after his final trip to South America. The hummingbird in this painting is the black-eared fairy (Heliothryx aurita) whose habitat is the lowlands of the Amazon basin, as is the passionflower (Passiflora racemosa). The first photograph in this post is courtesy of The Met, and the rest are mine, from a visit to the gallery in July 2017.