Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)

Untitled (Mt. Katahdin), 1939-1940
sepia ink over pencil on paper
Marsden Hartley Mem. Collection

Sundown, Kezar Lake, July 1910
oil on panel
Marsden Hartley Mem. Collection

Pallid Spring, July 1909
oil on panel
Marsden Hartley Mem. Collection


The spirit of Maine is found in many of the works of Lewiston native Marsden Hartley. Hartley earned attention at the age of thirteen, when he drew precise drawings of plants and animals for a professional naturalist. When his family moved to Cleveland in 1893, Hartley earned a scholarship to the Cleveland School of Art where he earned more praise. After earning a stipend to study in New York in 1899, Hartley enrolled in the New York School of Art, but quickly withdrew in 1900 over a disagreement with the system used there. Hartley then transferred to the National Academy of Design, where he would study for four years.

In 1906, Hartley returned to Lewiston and began painting impressionist landscapes and in 1909 earned his first solo exhibition. Hartley's style continued to evolve, especially following a 1912 trip to Europe, where he would remain for most of the next three years. During this period, Hartley's style continued to evolve and Hartley seemed to be influenced by a number of different artistic schools including European modernism, Fauvism, Cubism, and more. Some of Hartley's works were even inspired by German military emblems and contained mystical references to letters and numbers.

Upon his return to America, however, Hartley abandoned the "mystical" form and tried more straightforward abstract art. Eventually, the style that is recognized as distinctive "Hartley" emerged: strong, blocky objects with strong outlines and strong colors. Hartley continued to practice his art in a number of different locales, including New Mexico and Germany, until finally settling down in Maine in 1936, where he lived until his death in 1943.

For a complete biography, visit Bates' Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection.

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