(January 4, 1877 - September 2,
1943) was an American Modernist
painter, poet, and essayist of the early 20th century
. Hartley was born in Lewiston, Maine, USA, where
his English parents had settled. He began his art
training at the Cleveland
Institute of Art after the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in
He was born Edmund Hartley, but chose to take on his
step-mother's maiden name, Marsden, as his first name.
New York City
At the age
of 22, Hartley moved to New York City, where he attended the
of Design and studied painting at the Art Students League of New
York under William Merritt
Chase. A great admirer of Albert Pinkham Ryder, Hartley would
visit Ryder's studio in Greenwich Village as often as possible.
While in New York, he
came to the attention of Alfred
and became associated with Stieglitz' 291 Gallery
Group. Hartley had his first major
exhibition at the 291 Gallery
and another in 1912. He was in the cultural vanguard, in the same
milieu as Gertrude Stein
, Hart Crane
, Georgia O'Keeffe
, Ezra Pound
among many others.
Hartley, who was gay
, painted Portrait of a
(1914), which was an ode to Karl von Freyburg,
his friend Arnold Ronnebeck
cousin and a Prussian lieutenant of whom he became enamored before
von Freyburg's death in World War I.
Marsden Hartley traveled throughout the USA and Europe in the early
years of the 20th century. Considered an early modernist
, Hartley was a nomadic painter for much
of his life. He painted from Maine to Massachusetts, in New
Mexico, California, New York and Western
Finally, after spending many years away from his
native state, he returned to Maine toward the end of his life. He
wanted to become "the painter of Maine" and depict American life at
a local level. In this way, he is a member of the regionalists
, a group of artists from
the early to mid 20th century that attempted to represent a
distinctly "American art."
In addition to being considered one of the foremost American
painters of the first half of the 20th century, Hartley also wrote
poems, essays, and stories.
Cleophas and His Own: A North Atlantic
Tragedy is a story based on two periods he spent in 1935 and
1936 with the Mason family in the Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, fishing community of East Point Island.
Hartley, then in his late 50s, found there both an innocent,
unrestrained love and the sense of family he had been seeking since
his unhappy childhood in Maine. The impact of this experience
lasted until his death in 1943 and helped widen the scope of his
mature works, which included numerous portrayals of the
He wrote of the Masons, "Five magnificent chapters out of an
amazing, human book, these beautiful human beings, loving, tender,
strong, courageous, dutiful, kind, so like the salt of the sea, the
grit of the earth, the sheer face of the cliff." In Cleophas and
His Own, written in Nova Scotia in the fall of 1936 and re-printed in Marsden
Hartley and Nova Scotia, Hartley expresses his immense grief
at the tragic drowning of the Mason sons.
filmmaker Michael Maglaras
created a feature film Cleophas and His Own
, released in
2005, which uses a personal testament by Hartley as its
"catalogue raisonne" of Hartley's work is underway by art historian
Gail Levin, Distinguished Professor at Baruch College, and The Graduate Center of The City University of
- Portrait of a German Officer | Marsden Hartley |
All | All Departments | Collection Database | Works of Art | The
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York at www.metmuseum.org
- Cassidy, Donna M. Marsden Hartley: Race, Region, and
Nation. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2005.
- Coco, Janice. "Dialogues with the Self: New Thoughts on Marsden
Hartley's Self-Portraits." Prospects: An Annual of American
Cultural Studies 30 (2005): 623-649.
- Ferguson, Gerald, Ed. [Essays by Ronald Paulson and Gail R.
Scott]. Marsden Hartley and Nova Scotia. Halifax: The Press of
the Nova Scotia College of Art and
Design, 1987. ISBN 0-919616-32-1
- Harnsberger, R. Scott. Four Artists of the Stieglitz
Circle: A Sourcebook on Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin,
and Max Weber [Art Reference Collection, no. 26]. Westport:
Greenwood Press, 2002.
- Hartley, Marsden. Adventures in the Arts: Informal Chapters
on Painters, Vaudeville, and Poets. New York: Boni and
- Hartley, Marsden. Selected Poems: Marsden Hartley. Ed.
Henry W. Wells. New York: Viking Press, 1945.
- Hartley, Marsden. Somehow a Past: The Autobiography of
Marsden Hartley. Ed. Susan Elizabeth Ryan. Cambridge: MIT
- Haskell, Barbara. Marsden Hartley. Exhibition
Catalogue. Whitney Museum of American Art. New York: New York
University Press, 1980.
- Kornhauser, Elizabeth Mankin, Ed. Marsden Hartley.
Exhibition catalogue. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
- Ludington, Townsend. Marsden Hartley: The Biography of an
American Artist. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.
- Scott, Gail R. Marsden Hartley. New York: Abbeville
- Weinberg, Jonathan. Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the
Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American
Avant- Garde. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.
Marsden Hartley writings
Biographies and articles