Sudden Shower, Newbury Marshes Artist: Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)

ca. 1865–75

American Paintings and Sculpture

Not on view

Martin Johnson Heade made over one hundred paintings of salt marshes, whose flat expanses provided a canvas for the play of weather and tides. In Sudden Shower, Newbury Marshes, Heade's mastery of perspective allows the small canvas to convey a sense of the broad, flat landscape of the Massachusetts coast. In contrast to the regularly spaced haystacks, the looming clouds and veils of rain in this painting suggest impending change. Americans transformed agriculture by introducing the first effective harvesting machinery in the 1840s, yet Heade depicts the gathering of salt hay for animal feed, a traditional process resistant to mechanization and necessitated by the encroachment of New England's cities upon its pastures. Built on stilts, the haystack in the foreground suggests the fragility of the region's rural economy.


Oil on canvas


13 1/4 × 26 5/16 in. (33.7 × 66.8 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., B.A. 1960, in memory of H. John Heinz III, B.A. 1960, and Collection of Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh, B.A. 1933, M.A. 1935, by exchange

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

  • Stephen J. Hornsby and Richard W. Judd, eds., Historical Atlas of Maine (Orono: University of Maine Press, 2015), n.p., pl. 30
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 246–47, no. 140, ill
  • Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 29
  • Malcolm Robinson, The American Vision: Landscape Paintings of the United States (London: Octopus Books, 1988), 26, 28, 30
  • Robert G. Workman, The Eden of America: Rhode Island Landscapes, 1820–1920, exh. cat. (Providence, R.I: Rhode Island School of Design Museum, 1986), 34
  • Carol L. Troyen, The Boston Tradition: American Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (New York: American Federation of Arts, 1980), 124
  • Marcia Wallace Briggs, "American Luminism," Arts Magazine 53 (January 1979), 9
  • Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., The Life and Works of Martin Johnson Heade (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1975), 53–54, no. 120, pl. 2
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

landscapes (representations)


Signed lower left "M.J. Heade"

Technical metadata and APIs


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