|Marsden Hartley, "Fishermen's Last Supper," 1940-41|
Works by the painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) often appear in museum collections dedicated to modern American art. He's associated with other, perhaps better-known, artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Charles Demuth, and was promoted by Alfred Stieglitz. While I've seen quite a few exhibits dedicated to O'Keeffe and Stieglitz, I don't know a great deal about Hartley, and I'm trying to learn more. I was intrigued when I saw several of his paintings in a collection of work on food themes depicted in American painting.
"Fishermen's Last Supper," clearly a painting of a meal, obviously also alludes to Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper." The subject of the painting, the book explains, is a family of Nova Scotia fishermen, named Mason, with whom Hartley lived for a few weeks in 1935 and then in 1936. Two of the family's sons drowned in a storm in September, 1936, and Hartley painted two works featuring them:
"The five members of the Mason family sit at a table, hands outstretched with fork an knife to encircle their plates. They face three empty chairs, two adorned with mourning wreaths in recognition of the family's bereavement. Numerous references to Christianity position this painting within a framework of religious sacrifice." (Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine, ed. Judith A. Barter, p. 189)Hartley painted many still-lifes with fish, fruit or vegetables, for example, this:
|Marsden Hartley, "Lobster on Black Background," 1940-41|