Marsden Hartley

John Florens | Jul 22, 2023

Table of Content


Marsden Hartley (born as Edmund Hartley on January 4, 1877 in Lewiston, died September 2, 1943 in Ellsworth) - American modernist painter, promoted by Alfred Stieglitz, best known for his early abstract paintings, painted in Germany, landscapes depicting the southwestern United States and still lifes, as well as his late, evocative landscapes of the state of Maine, considered his significant contribution to the development of modern American painting.

Education period. The beginning of artistic activity

Edmund Hartley was born in Lewiston, Maine, where his father, an immigrant from England, owned a textile mill. When he was eight years old his mother died. Her death became a difficult experience for him, which left its mark on his later life. The Hartley family of nine children was broken up. Four years later, his father married Martha Marsden and left with her for Cleveland. Young Edmund, meanwhile, remained in Maine, Maine, where he lived with his older sister. In 1893, he decided to join his father and stepmother in Cleveland. He began studying at the Cleveland School of Art, where he became acquainted with Ralph Wald Emerson's essays, which strongly influenced his artistic development.

In 1899, he left Cleveland after receiving a scholarship that enabled him to finance five years of study in New York. From 1899 to 1900, he attended classes at the New York School of Art founded by William Merritt Chase. From 1900 to 1904, he continued his studies at the National Academy of Design, and painted landscapes of his home state during the summer seasons. During his studies, he met future modernists Abraham Walkowitz and Maurice Sterne. It was during this time that he first encountered European modernism, including the works and painting technique of Giovanni Segantini. In 1906 he returned to Lewiston, at which time he decided to take his stepmother's maiden name as his middle name. From then on he began to be known as Edmund Marsden Hartley (from 1908 he used a shortened form - Marsden Hartley). He spent the next few years in the Green Acre religious community in Eliot, Maine, becoming fascinated with spiritualism and mysticism. These fascinations, as well as his interest in the work of American tonalists George Inness and John Henry Twachtman, led to symbolist themes in his landscapes of the time. When he returned to New York in 1909, his landscapes caught the attention of photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, who offered him his first solo exhibition at his 291 Gallery. In it, Hartley exhibited his vibrant landscapes, whose motif was the hills of the western part of his home state; one of these landscapes was the canvas Silence at Noon - Summer Solstice, painted between 1907 and 1908. Thanks to this exhibition, Hartley came into contact with the American modernists gathered around Stieglitz: Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe and Paul Strand. A few months later, he came across the paintings of Albert Pinkham Ryder, which deeply moved him, exerting a stylistic influence on his work. His paintings became darker, more expressive and abstract on the formal side, and his palette darker and monochromatic. An expression of these tendencies was the series Dark Landscapes 1909-10, showing wall-like black mountains overwhelming fragile homes. In 1911, Hartley first encountered Paul Cézanne's paintings when Stieglitz organized a posthumous exhibition of his works at his gallery. Hartley then decided to travel to Europe to become more familiar with European modernism.

A trip to Europe

Thanks to connections and funds provided by Stieglitz, Hartley traveled to Europe for the first time in 1912. He stayed in Paris, where he visited the atelier of Gertrude Stein, known for exhibiting the latest works of European modernism. He became associated with the avant-garde circle of the Paris art scene by participating in Parisian modernist exhibitions. He became friends with Arthur Beecher Carles, Robert Delaunay, Charles Demuth, Alfred Maurer and Edward Steichen. He also met German artists, including the sculptor Arnold Rönnenbeck and his cousin, Lieutenant Karl von Freyburg. Germany impressed Hartley, so in 1913 he decided to move to Berlin.

Eight of his works created during this period were presented at the Armory Show modern art exhibition in New York. Among them were two natures (including Still Life No. 1) and six drawings. All of them testified that their author was interested in Cubism and Expressionism during his stay in Germany and France.

Hartley spent two years in Berlin, and his works were well received by the German public. He was one of the few Americans invited to exhibit his work at Berlin's largest exhibition of avant-garde art, Erster deutscher Herbstsalon; in addition, his work was included in the prestigious Münchener Graphik-Verlag exhibition. Hartley remained in Germany until December 1915. At that time, due to increased tensions caused by World War I, he was forced to return to New York.

Return to the United States

When he returned to the United States, his stepmother had died. His stay in Germany meant that his paintings, inspired by German motifs, were reluctantly received by American audiences. In search of new artistic inspiration, he returned briefly to his native Maine, then decided to spend the summer of 1916 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He focused his attention on motifs typical of that state, resulting in abstract views of sailing ships and New England homes, as well as elaborate floral scenes and still lifes. Desiring a change of scenery in 1918, he moved to New Mexico, where his attention was drawn to the natural landscape of the cities of Taos and Santa Fe and the Indian culture. During the 18 months he spent in the Southwest, pastel became his favorite painting technique.

Returning to Europe

Hartley spent most of the 1920s in Berlin and France, where he continued to paint landscapes inspired by the natural landscape of New Mexico. During this time, he took an intense interest in the work of Paul Cézanne; he spent two years in the artist's hometown of Aix-en-Provence, studying and painting the mountainous motifs of the city's surroundings.

Return to the United States

In 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression, Hartley returned to the United States. A year later, his art took another turn. During a visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts, he came across the barren landscape of Dogtown, an abandoned 18th-century town. His paintings painted at the time were well received by the American public.

Trip to Mexico and Germany

In 1931, he participated in a trip to the city of Cuernavaca, Mexico funded by Solomon Robert Guggenheim. The following year, a solo exhibition of his work was held at the Galería de la Escuela Central de Artes Plasticas in Mexico. In 1933, he left Mexico for Germany. During this trip he was impressed by the Bavarian Alps. He took to exploring the mountainous terrain in detail in drawings made in silver pencil and pastels.

Return to the United States

Hartley returned from Germany in 1934. He worked briefly in the management of the Public Works of Art Project, but resigned after a month. He spent the next two years in Nova Scotia with the Masons, a French-Canadian fishing family. During this time he came into closer contact with their two sons. Their tragic drowning in 1936 moved him deeply, becoming the inspiration for a series of portraits depicting the family, widely regarded as his most moving works, deeply marked by emotional overtones of love and pain of loss. Hartley spent the last years of his life in Maine. In early 1939, he returned to the inspiration of Cézanne and his famous depictions of the Sainte-Victoire mountain near Aix-en-Provence. Following his example, he then painted a series of paintings in which Mount Katahdin in Maine became the main motif. Between 1940 and 1941 he created a series of paintings in which he depicted athletically built men, as in Madawaska-Acadian Light-Heavy (1940), for which his favored model, a French-Canadian welterweight boxer, posed for him. Hartley admired his musculature, displaying his anatomy in an exaggerated way and emphasizing the vitality of the figure by placing it against a red background. Another of his paintings of this type was Canuck Yankee Lumberjack at Old Orchard Beach, Maine (1940-1941), depicting a lumberjack from Old Orchard Beach. Depicted in a sophisticated, sensual manner, the male silhouettes evoke the poems of Walt Whitman, which Hartley also admired. His paintings with male figures were very successful. Critics of the time appreciated them for their firm masculinity while deliberately ignoring their controversial homosexual overtones. In 1940 Hartley published a volume of poetry called Androscoggin, followed a year later by Sea Burial. In 1942 he was awarded the Fourth Painting Purchase for his Artists for Victory exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He died in Ellsworth on September 2, 1943 of heart failure.

Prace Marsdeny Hartleya znajdują się w kolekcjach głównych amerykańskich muzeów sztuki, w tym: Addison Gallery of American Art, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Columbus Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, Memorial Art Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Museum of Fine Arts w Bostonie, National Gallery of Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Phillips Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery, Toledo Museum of Art, Wadsworth Atheneum, Weisman Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Yale University Art Gallery i wielu innych.


  1. Marsden Hartley
  2. Marsden Hartley
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Haskell, Barbara (1980). Marsden Hartley. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art. pp. 190–191. ISBN 0-87427-027-8.
  4. ^ a b c Haskell, Barbara (1980). Marsden Hartley. New York and London: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with New York University Press. p. 95. ISBN 0-87427-027-8.
  5. Phillips Collection: MARSDEN HARTLEY (1877–1943). [dostęp 2017-04-11]. [zarchiwizowane z tego adresu (2017-05-06)]. (ang.).
  6. a b c d e f g h Roberts, Norma J., ed. (1988), The American Collections, Columbus Museum of Art, p. 78, ISBN 0-8109-1811-0. [S.l.: s.n.]
  7. a b c «glbtq >> arts >> Hartley, Marsden». 29 de junho de 2011. Consultado em 20 de setembro de 2017
  8. Hartley, Marsden. Somehow a Past: The Autobiography of Marsden Hartley. Ed. Susan Elizabeth Ryan. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997 p. 48 Jump up ^. [S.l.: s.n.]
  9. «Quoted in East, Elyssa. Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town. New York: Free Press, 2009. Print. p.26»
  10. a b Volker Rattemeyer (Hrsg.): Das Geistige in der Kunst. Vom Blauen Reiter zum Abstrakten Expressionismus. Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden 2010, S. 405.
  11. Segantini stitch (Memento vom 2. Januar 2010 im Internet Archive), abgerufen am 21. Februar 2010.
  12. Karin von Maur (Hrsg.): Magie der Zahl in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Verlag Gerd Hatje, (anlässlich der Ausstellung Magie der Zahl in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts in der Staatsgalerie Stuttgart vom 1. Februar bis 19. Mai 1997), S. 30.
  13. Beth Venn, Adam D. Weinberg, Kennedy Fraser: Frames of Reference: Looking at American Art, 1900–1950: Works from the Whitney Museum of American Art. University of California Press, Berkeley 1999, ISBN 0-520-21887-6, S. 211.
  14. Siehe dazu Weinberg (Lit.), S. 147f. und Donna Cassidy: Marsden Hartley: Race, Region, And Nation. University Press of New England, Lebanon, NH 2005, ISBN 1-58465-446-5, S. 229.

Please Disable Ddblocker

We are sorry, but it looks like you have an dblocker enabled.

Our only way to maintain this website is by serving a minimum ammount of ads

Please disable your adblocker in order to continue.

Dafato needs your help!

Dafato is a non-profit website that aims to record and present historical events without bias.

The continuous and uninterrupted operation of the site relies on donations from generous readers like you.

Your donation, no matter the size will help to continue providing articles to readers like you.

Will you consider making a donation today?