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Hartley Entire Collection

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High Spot, House for Me on a Granite Ledge

Marsden Hartley, American, (Lewiston, ME, January 4, 1877 - September 2, 1943, Ellsworth, ME)

In late summer 1939, Hartley's friend from Bangor, Maine and fellow artist, Waldo Pierce, picked him up at the Evans home in West Brookville, on the banks of the Bagaduce River, and drove him up the coast to Mt. Desert—a drive that he found "breathtakingly beautiful." Along the way, they stopped in the little fishing village of Corea, which he declared to be "a wonderful fishing village . . . so like my beloved Nova Scotia." In letters that winter he told Hudson Walker and a few friends of his discovery and vowed to return there the next year, but he wanted to keep the location a secret so that other artists wouldn't come and spoil it by making it a summer art colony. Indeed, as is well known, Hartley spent eight or nine months of 1940, 1941, and 1942, and two months in 1943, boarding at the home of Katie and Joseph Young in Corea and working in two make-shift studios: the Baptist Church across the street and a converted chicken house on their property. Though "not so epic in its simplicity" as Blue Rocks in Nova Scotia, Corea and the Youngs nevertheless had a similar "archaic quality" that had so moved him in 1935 and 1936. These plans for "High Spot," a house to be built for him on a granite ledge, speak of Hartley's longing for a home of his own after a lifetime of being rootless and homeless.

The elevations of the exterior of the little house show a studio with a north-facing window, and the plan for the east wall shows a desk with chair and lamp—the essential working places for Hartley's twin artistic endeavors: as painter and writer. Bookshelves line the walls on either side of the fireplace, for, as is abundantly evident from the artist's large personal library that Bates acquired as part of the MHMC, Hartley was an avid, eclectic, and deep reader. Above the woodstove/fireplace mantle is sketched one of his portraits of Abraham Lincoln, with a map of some of the Gulf of Maine peninsulas on the left, and a map of the State of Maine on the right. Other portraits hang in the living room and bedrooms.

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