Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) Dogtown 18 x 24in (Painted in 1931.)
Lot 62
Marsden Hartley
(1877-1943)
Dogtown 18 x 24in
Sold for US$ 262,500 inc. premium

American Art

20 Nov 2017, 10:00 EST

New York

Lot Details
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
Dogtown
signed and inscribed with title 'Marsden Hartley / Dogtown' (on the reverse)
oil on board
18 x 24in
Painted in 1931.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The artist.
    Estate of the above.
    Macbeth Gallery, New York.
    Babcock Galleries, New York.
    Drs. Macia and Meyer Friedman, 1959.
    Estate of the above.
    Sale, Sotheby's, New York, November 28, 2001, lot 121.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    Exhibited
    Yonkers, New York, Hudson River Museum, Paintbox Leaves: Autumnal Inspiration from Cole to Wyeth, September 25, 2010-January 16, 2011, table of contents, p. 74, illustrated.
    Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, Marsden Hartley: Soliloquy in Dogtown, June 9-October 14, 2012, p. 8, illustrated.

    Literature
    K. Rosenberg, "Venerable, Small and Lots on Paper (Including Napkins)," The New York Times, March 5, 2015, p. C24, illustrated.
    S. Gold, "Fleeting Autumns, Captured on Canvas," The New York Times, November 21, 2010, p. WE10, illustrated.
    E. McCausland, Marsden Hartley Catalogue Raisonné Research, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C., box 15, folder 25, frames 2-3, illustrated.

    Marsden Hartley maintained a lifelong connection to New England. Born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1877, the formative years of his career kept Hartley living and working in Maine intermittently between various artistic explorations of the Eastern Coast. Finally, in 1912, the artist made his first excursion abroad, which began an important shift in his artistic theory and practice. Taking residency in Europe from 1921-30, his supporters, including his mentor Alfred Stieglitz, and two prominent art critics of the day, Paul Rosenfeld and Waldo Frank, persuaded the artist to return home to the states and revisit the American subjects his audience favored. Hartley grew weary and eventually caved at the encouragement to return to the states, landing in New Hampshire in June of 1930.

    What followed was a period of grave illness and isolation which plagued the artist through the winter. By February 1931, Hartley emerged from the physical and emotional suffering he endured at the time and made plans for his next artistic journey, leaving Brooklyn, New York, and heading north. (B. Haskell, Marsden Hartley, New York, 190, p. 82) Hartley was drawn to Dogtown Common, a small locale outside Gloucester, in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, which had been abandoned in 1750 by a small population. Already fond of the region after a trip to the area in 1920, he set to work right away. Hartley wrote that Dogtown was "a place so original in its appearance as not to be duplicated either in New England or anywhere else – and the air of being made for no one – for nothing but itself. . . . A sense of eeriness pervades all the place therefore and the white shafts of these huge boulders mostly granite – stand like sentinels guarding nothing but shore – sea gulls fly over it on their way from the marshes to the sea – otherwise the place is forsaken and majestically lovely as if nature had at last found one spot where she can live for herself alone. . . . [It is] a cross between Easter Island and Stonehenge – essentially druidic in its appearance – it gives the feeling that an ancient race might turn up at any moment and renew an ageless rite there." (as quoted in ibid, p. 82)

    Physical limitations prevented Hartley from transporting his supplies on site to paint each day, instead he painted from memory or his various sketches. This process defined his artistic approach to painting during this period. In his own words he summarized this period of creativity in announcing, "I myself have returned to objective nature in painting." (as quoted in ibid, p. 83) Barbara Haskell goes on to say, "Hartley successfully infused his Dogtown paintings with the stark monumentality of the area. . . . In these Dogtown paintings, the forms become truly sculptural. . . . Hartley depicted the glacial boulders of Dogtown as dense, massive volumes. Rejecting surface detail in favor of simplified, severe forms, he created images of permanence and stability. His 'objective' goal was not to transcribe the exact physical likeness of the area, but rather to capture the underlying geometric structure which remained after accidental appearances had been eliminated." (ibid, p. 83)

    By December, Hartley was finished with the series and returned to New York with a renewed sense of purpose, when writing Stieglitz he deemed himself a New England painter. His return to landscape after his European period produced spirited oils, the Dogtown series among the most emphatic of his American landscapes.
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