Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Marsden Hartley

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


Kitchen Riffs said...

Great use of color! And love the perspective in that top painting -- everyone is slightly off kilter. I really don't know this artist at all well. Thanks for reminding me of him. :-)

Beth F said...

I too like the colors.

Tina said...

That lobster painting would go so well in our kitchen. I like your post, it's great to highlight the arts.

Claudia said...

The top painting looks to be in the American Primitive tradition, which I do enjoy, as they take their own leap from reality, in use of color and symbolism. Thanks for your perspective.

Carole said...

Thanks, Mae. Not an artist I knew before. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Mae Travels said...

Hartley is usually classified as a "modernist," influenced by the German Expressionists and also by Cezanne, Picasso, and others, not so much by the Primitives.

An exhibit of his work titled "Marsden Hartley's Maine" is about to open at the Met in New York -- "from the lush Post-Impressionist inland landscapes with which he launched his career, to the later roughly rendered paintings of Maine's rugged coastal terrain, its hardy inhabitants, and the magisterial Mount Katahdin". ( )

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Hartley is new to me. His work is rich and lovely, I think.