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The Cover
June 22 2011

Red Rose With Ruby Throat

JAMA. 2011;305(24):2499. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.821

[G]littering fragment of the rainbow, moving on humming winglets through the air, suspended as if by magic in it, flitting from one flower to another.—John James Audubon

Martin Johnson Heade's (1819-1904) naturalistic landscape paintings of birds and flowers elicit a sense of wonder. Unlike John James Audubon’s wildlife paintings, Heade's paintings of birds evoke the landscapes they inhabit and draw the viewer into nature's timeless realm. These works exemplify his early training in art in rural Pennsylvania with local Quaker folk artist Edward Hicks, who sought to express the inner light that unites people and allows them to live in peace with one another. Hicks, a folk artist, exemplified the ideals of William Penn in his best-known painting The Peaceable Kingdom. Heade's oeuvre is a sophisticated examination of the theme of peacefulness in nature. He evokes the natural connectedness of all of life in his paintings by his choice of subject matter and use of light to create a sense of warmth and alert tranquility. In Red Rose With Ruby Throat (cover ), Heade reveals two of nature's most beloved and poetic images: the hummingbird and the rose. Both have acquired symbolic meaning since humans began to speak of inspiration.