Marsden Hartley | German paintings

American painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) moved to Berlin in 1913. It was a highly productive period in which he produced some of his best known works, exhibiting them at the First (and last) German Autumn Salon as well as the epochal Armory Show of that year. It was also an era of sabre-rattling from Germany’s ever-present military. Hartley’s artistic response was puzzling, to say the least: he filled his canvases with festive assortments of regimental insignia, no more warlike than a Dufy regatta. Portrait of a German Officer records his particular attachment to one Karl von Freyburg, who fell in France in October 1914 (one of two paintings here to bear his initials). An exhibition beginning this week at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie brings together paintings from Hartley’s German period, which ended in December 1915.

The Warriors
Portrait of a German Officer
Painting No. 48
Painting No. 47
Lighthouse 2
Forms Abstracted
Berlin Series no. 2
Berlin Series no. 1
Berlin before the War

Further reading
Djuna Barnes | drawings



  1. Linda Hollander

    These are quite beautiful and reminiscent of Delaunay (actually both Delaunay’s), don’t you think? Is the brushwork highly visible, because the pieces look amost smooth in the photos.

    • Not sure about the brushwork – I can tell you next week once I’ve seen it!

      • I finally got to see this…the works are painterly, but not madly so. In some there seems to be a substructure of texture, like something got painted over. The exhibition is laid out in a very peculiar configuration of four parts…I was trying to work out why then I realised it was the shape of an Iron Cross.

  2. Have you read Robert McAlmon’s “Distinguished Air”? I’ve yet to track it down, but it’s supposed to contain a delicious send-up of Hartley’s first months in Berlin. He appears in a story as “…Carroll Timmons, a prim New Englander of “elderly aunt-like visage.” Seated in a disreputable club with with a boy on his knee, Timmons proclaimed: “When there are such lovely window displays to see in the shops I can’t be bothered by people who bore me… There are so many beautiful young things in the world.” “

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