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The Art of JAMA
March 19, 2014

Thistle BlossomsE. Martin Hennings

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;311(11):1094-1095. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279390

Aspen leaves glitter with a golden light, and billowing clouds drift lazily across a blue desert sky. The drowsy drone of an ensemble of insects is perhaps the only disturbance of any decibel level. There was little not to like in New Mexico for painter E. Martin Hennings (1886-1956), and this polychromatic paradise was so enshrined in his affections that he spent much of his career tracing its colorful contours on canvas.

Hennings was born in New Jersey, but the family moved to Chicago shortly thereafter, which in the late 1800s was a-buzz with economic and cultural activity, creating a stimulating environment for him. Hennings visited the Art Institute of Chicago in 1899, at which time he resolved to become an artist. This decision seemed to surprise even him: “It was rather strange that I chose painting for my profession, for practically none of my family showed any artistic tendencies. It happened that when I was 12 or 13 years old, another lad and myself wandered into the Art Institute of Chicago and it was during that visit that I determined to become an artist. That day I secured a pamphlet that showed me that art could be studied. That had never occurred to me.” Heltunen V. E. Martin Hennings: Taos Artist. (

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