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Hartley Entire Collection

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[Preliminary drawing for Roses]

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

Among the photographs in the MHMC is one taken by Louise Young of Hartley's studio (converted from an abandoned chicken coop) on the Young's property in Corea after his death. On the wall is the large (40 x 30 in) canvas of Roses, 1943 (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis), Hartley's last painting. Tacked on the wall to the left is this preparatory drawing, from which the artist was working. Drawing and painting are unique in his oeuvre. In the drawing, at u.l. is a line—perhaps the beginning of a framing line as we saw in the window view drawing of a flower still life ((MHMC 1955.1.92). Did Hartley at first conceive of this bursting bouquet as situated as a still life in an open window? The painting confirms that the flowers are, in fact placed against a blue sky with puffy, solid white clouds, but ecstatic bouquet has been liberated from the confines of a window frame and a distant earthly scene of ocean, islands or boats. They dwell directly in the ethers. One wonders what Hartley thought as he painted this work and pondered mortality and immortality.

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