Last Updated on March 13, 2022 by Guillermina
Some artists nourished a profound love for the fascinating bird, resulting in paintings of hummingbirds and flowers. If you ever made an effort to look into hummingbird prints to decorate your home, the first name that pops up is Martin Johnson Heade.
This artist made over 12 paintings of hummingbirds and flowers throughout his career. It’s impressive that his art is still unsurpassed even after more than a century.
Come with us to see how more artists vividly portrayed the hummingbird’s life.
The Inspiration Behind Hummingbird Art
Throughout the years, artists explored mesmerizing subjects they could translate into art. Today we can place cameras on tripods and capture the hummingbird feeding in the early morning. We can even paint the photograph easily.
A century ago, this wasn’t manageable. We know hummingbirds barely stop, so how were artists able to paint detailed pictures of these birds?
One of the oldest painters that managed to produce exquisite works of art, including hummingbirds, is Martin Johnson Heade. In his paintings of hummingbirds and flowers, he captured the hummer’s everyday life moments.
Hummingbird Symbolism in Art
There are so many paintings, but what do hummingbirds symbolize in art? Hummingbirds are a symbol of determination, stamina, and energy. They don’t stop from dawn until dusk, orbiting around looking for the perfect food source. They symbolize that nothing is out of reach if you’re strong and tenacious.
The Most Popular Hummingbird Painting
We can’t name how many paintings of hummingbirds and flowers are there, but one for sure is the most popular one. “Orchids and Hummingbirds” by Martin Johnson Heade is one of its kind.
The author, an aspiring naturalist at the time, took several trips to North and Central America in an attempt to paint different types of hummingbirds. Partially, he painted by memory which is part of the charm of his artwork. It’s believed that he was the first to illustrate orchids in his work.
He did the painting somewhere between 1875 and 1890. Today, you can see this painting in Washington DC’s National Gallery of Art.
Hummingbird Painting You Must See
1. Hummingbird and Passionflowers – M. J. Heade
After his last trip to South America, Heade painted a hummingbird kind you can find living in the Amazon forest. The Black-eared fairy is shown standing on the passionflower’s vines. The flower features wide open blooms with bright red petals. They’re also native to this part of the world. The painting is currently at the Met Museum.
2. Orchids and Hummingbird – M. J. Heade
Orchids and hummingbirds are revolutionary in a way that encapsulates the beginning of a new art genre. Moreover, the painting presents two Amethyst hummingbirds perched on a tree branch near two bright pink orchids.
3. Orchid and Hummingbird near a Mountain Waterfall- M. J. Heade
One of the last paintings of M. J. Heade created in 1902 presents a young Amethyst bird standing on the leaf of a pink orchid. The bird seemingly engages in conversation with the flower. In the distance behind them, there’s a dense forest and a waterfall.
This painting is located in the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
4. Cattleya Orchid and Three Hummingbirds – M. J. Heade
Using oil on wood, the author painted two Amethyst hummingbirds hovering around a nest while a red-tailed Red-tailed comet stands nearby. The red-tailed comet is part of the Sappho genus and can be found in Argentina and Bolivia.
5. An Amethyst Hummingbird with a White Orchid – M. J. Heade
This painting shows an amethyst hummingbird on a tree branch below a blooming white orchid with a red center. Hummingbirds are very useful to orchids as these flowers have no smell and other pollinators tend to avoid them. This is one of the mystic paintings of hummingbirds and flowers by this author.
6. Hummingbird and Orchid, Sun Breaking Through the Clouds – M. J. Heade
This painting shows the first sun rays making their way through the clouds putting an adult amethyst hummingbird in the spotlight. The bird is standing on the leaf of a perfect pink orchid. It’s fair to say that this hummingbird made the greatest impression on the author on his trips through South America.
7. Oreotrochilus Chimborazo: Hill Star – John Gould
This author was an ornithologist who had a collection of 320 hummingbird species. However, he’s never seen a living hummingbird until he visited the US.
The first one he spotted was the Ruby-throated hummingbird. He was so fascinated with the birds that he brought 5 of them back with him to London. Since this isn’t their natural habitat, they quickly died.
This work of art is lithography of two white-necked Jacobin, a bird he’s ever seen live, and a feeding female Ruby-throated hummingbird.
8. Portmann’s Emerald – John Gould
This is another piece by the author mentioned above that features a Ruby-throated hummingbird. Here the bird accompanies a short-tailed Emerald hummingbird that hovers over a water lily.
It’s interesting how John Gould combines hummingbirds from his collection with something he’s seen in person. In reality, these two hummingbirds live in entirely different habitats.
9. Fruit and Flowers – Frances Flora Bond Palmer
Among the most beautiful paintings of hummingbirds and flowers is the art by Frances Flora. It portrays a Great sapphire wing hummingbird native to Ecuador and the surrounding area.
And what is the hummingbird’s favorite flower if not a trumpet vine, as shown in this painting. The majestic hummingbird feeds on an orange flower beside a table with fruits.
Final Say: The Charm in the Paintings of Hummingbirds and Flowers
Throughout the years, hummingbirds were usually the topic of interest of naturalists and ornithologists. This led them to create some precious paintings with hummingbirds and flowers. Martin Johnson Heade is the first name that comes to mind, and prints of his paintings are still sold today.
Older paintings hold a greater value because the artists couldn’t simply research the type of hummingbird before painting it. Some were painted by memory even decades after first spotting the bird.
What do hummingbirds symbolize in art?
Painted hummingbirds symbolize determination, persistence, and succeeding to do the impossible.
What is the hummingbird’s favorite flower?
Hummingbirds love trumpet-shaped flowers with bright colors like the trumpet vine, cardinal flower, coral honeysuckle, and beardtongues.
Meri is a passionate wildlife enthusiast with a special interest in hummingbirds. She loves to observe and learn about the different species of hummingbirds from around the world. After graduating from college with a degree in biology, Meri decided to pursue her dream of writing about hummingbirds and the importance of their conservation. She has since published several articles on the subject in various magazines and online publications. Her articles focus on the importance of habitat preservation, how hummingbirds contribute to ecosystem balance, and the unique behaviors of various species. When she’s not writing, Meri enjoys bird watching and taking pictures of her feathered friends. She also volunteers at her local wildlife center, helping to protect and rehabilitate injured or orphaned hummingbirds. Meri’s passion for hummingbirds drives her to spread awareness and promote their conservation, so that future generations will be able to enjoy their beauty.