Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) is considered to be one of America’s most important modernist painters. Hartley was born in Lewiston and the state of Maine was integral to the artist's identity, manifesting itself in his travels, art, and writing.
In 1951, the heirs of the Marsden Hartley estate left as a gift to Bates College, in compliance with his wish, the last remaining effects from Corea, Maine, where he lived and kept a studio. The collection was left as a memorial to the Lewiston artist of international recognition and historical note. In 1955, Hartley’s niece, Norma G. Berger, made an additional gift of the Artist’s drawings and other works to the College. The variety in the collection is part of what makes it significant and interesting to a range of scholars. The collection as a whole, allowing comparisons among drawings, textiles, objects and written works provides more opportunities for insight into this important American Modernist than one can get viewing artworks alone. The extensive range of this unique collection make it a valuable repository of regional and national heritage.