Sundown, Kezar Lake
July 14, 1910
(Lewiston, ME, January 4, 1877 - September 2, 1943, Ellsworth, ME)
For all three early paintings (1955.1.100-1955.1.102): The MHMC is fortunate to own three very early landscapes by Hartley, especially since so few of his works before 1910 still exist. In 1893, at the age of 16, Hartley moved to Cleveland to be with his family. He attended art school there, and in 1899 was given a stipend to continue his art studies in New York. He enrolled that fall semester in William Merrit Chase's school. For the next ten years it became his pattern to live in New York City (attending one art school or another) in the winter but returning to his native roots in Maine each summer to draw and paint. There he roamed the countryside around Lewiston and later, Bridgton and the Kezar Lake regions of western Maine, in the foothills of the White Mountains, which at that time was still remote and wild. His letters and memoirs speak of the nature studies that occupied him during these years: spring flowers, moths and butterflies, colorful fall foliage, vibrant skies and cloud formations. As these three small landscapes attest, Hartley immersed himself in nature, allowing his painting to be tutored by it unencumbered by external influences.
Manuscripts for several early poems by Hartley and sent to his niece, Norma Berger, were written during the timeframe of these three small landscapes and now part of the MHMC. See for instance, the one titled "Summer Evening," a lyrically evocative vision of sunset over a lake.