Hummingbird Orchid RGG96V2

Martin Johnson Heade, An Orchid with Nesting Shear-Tails, ca. 1875, Private Collection.

January 27 - April 18, 2010
Free with Museum admission 

Throughout the 19th century American artist-explorers braved many hardships to reach and document some of the most remarkable terrain, flora, and fauna in the world. Their views of jungles, erupting volcanoes, ancient archeology, and exotic species from Central and South America and Florida stimulated interest in travel to the New World Tropics, and incited a passion for exotic species such as orchids and hummingbirds.

hummingbirds and their nest    
Martin Johnson Heade, Hummingbirds and Nest,
Courtesy Eaton Fine Art, Private Collection
   

This exhibition includes rare paintings, drawings, prints, and illustrated books created by intrepid artist-explorers such as Frederick Catherwood, George Catlin, Frederic Edwin Church, Martin Johnson Heade, George Inness, Louis Mignot, Thomas Moran, William Aiken Walker, and Laura Woodward. While some artist-explorers were motivated by a romantic desire for escape from civilization, many were true scientists, inspired to travel to the tropics by the recently published work of Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin. The exhibition juxtaposes examples of romantic, soulful representations of tropical landscape by artists such as Mignot, Moran, Inness, and Woodward, with more scientifically motivated works by Catlin, Church, Heade, Catherwood, and Walker. 

During the second half of the 19th century, the American Tropics became moreOrchid Brooch, Tiffany & Co. Archives attractive to greater numbers of artists, scientists, writers, tourists, and also entrepreneurs like Henry Flagler. The once difficult journey to Florida, Mexico, and Latin America became less dangerous and uncomfortable via newly established railway and steamship services. Works by artist-explorers documenting the unspoiled paradise allowed curious viewers to experience strange and unfamiliar tropical features. In addition to paintings and literature, New World Eden will also present jewelry, hair ornaments, and decorative objects, by makers such as Tiffany & Co., which document the wild popularity of these strange and fascinating discoveries.

 

Exhibition Reviews:

Palm Beach ArtsPaper: A "Wow!"
By Gretel Sarmiento

Palm Beach Daily News Review
By Jan Sjostrom

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