MFA Boston Custom Prints

Martin Johnson Heade

Vase of Mixed Flowers, about 1872

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About the Artwork

Today Heade is probably best known for his pictures of orchids [47.1164], magnolias [47.1169], water lilies [47.1165], and other flowers in which he focused on one, two, or three blooms. Painted life-size in a natural setting, their forms are often sexually suggestive. Throughout his life, however, Heade also painted more conventional flower pieces in keeping with contemporary taste. With its simple arrangement of blooms in a delicate vase set on a covered table, Vase of Mixed Flowers typifies those canvases. Though Heade deliberately selected flowers that allowed him to work with different shapes, textures, and colors, the arrangement does not appear contrived, and though the flowers may not be overtly erotic, Heade nonetheless recognized their expressive possibilities. Thus the rose seems to reach upwards and tentatively open its leaves outward, while the stamens shoot out from the fully open leaves of the azalea. Heade probably also chose the flowers with an eye towards their symbolism since he was well aware of the vogue in nineteenth-century America for assigning meanings to various flowers, particularly ones associated with the traits and character of women. Contemporary viewers familiar with the language of flowers might therefore have read the heliotrope and orange blossom as signs of devotion and purity and equated the rose with love. The carnation, on the other hand, conventionally signified disdain and heather indicated solitude—neither of them desirable qualities for women in that period.

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About Our Prints

MFA Boston Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collection. Thanks to gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
All reproductions you find in this store are approved by MFA Boston. Many of the works offered are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering, so come back often to see our new releases.
You have found the work that speaks to you. Now what? Using our innovative custom framing tool you can preview exactly what your finished and framed art will look like. We offer many different moulding styles so there is sure to be a match for any type of decor.

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Museum members will receive their member discount for all orders placed through our Custom Prints store. Simply enter your member ID during the checkout process. Once your membership has been validated, your discount will be applied.