Marsden Hartley

(1877-1943) Considered one of the foremost American painters of the first half

of the 20th century known for his use of volumetric forms, rich colors, and bold lines. His  depictions of landscapes, figures, and still lifes, exude an auratic reverence towards the natural world. Born Edmund Hartley in Lewiston, Maine, where his English parents had settled, he was in his 20s when he began using his stepmother’s surname. (His birth mother had died when he was 14.) He worked in a shoe factory for a year before joining his family in Cleveland in 1892, where he would win a scholarship to the Cleveland School of Art. In 1898, at age 22, Hartley moved to New York City to study painting at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase, then attended the National Academy of Design.


During his peripatetic life he painted many of the places he visited, including Maine, Paris, Germany, Mexico, New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Cape Cod, Gloucester, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, and the south of France. A seminal modernist and member of Alfred Stieglitz’s groundbreaking circle (which included Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Arthur Dove, and Charles Demuth), Hartley painted easel-sized landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and abstract compositions based on pre-World War I German military paraphernalia and medals. He was deeply attached to nature, and his solidly painted forms evoke a primordial geologic power and poetic sense of isolation that transcends observed reality. Exaggerated form, strong outline and flattened space are among Hartley’s signature strategies. His work is in the collections of major museums including the Met. See for examples of his work.