Modern Minute: Marsden Hartley, "End of Storm, Vinalhaven, Maine" (1937-38)

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Modern Minute: Marsden Hartley, "End of Storm, Vinalhaven, Maine" (1937-38)

Allison Slaby of Reynolda House discusses Marsden Hartley's End of Storm, Vinalhaven, Maine, on view in the Museum's exhibition Reynolda Moderns

Modern Minute: "End of Storm, Vinalhaven, Maine" Marsden Hartley

Reynolda House is grateful for the generous support of Reynolda Moderns from media sponsor Our State magazine.


Allison Slaby, Reynolda House: Marsden Hartley “End of Storm, Vinalhaven, Maine” 1937-1938


Marsden Hartley was a restless traveller and he painted landscapes throughout the United States and Europe. But the wild mountains and rugged coastline of the state of Maine, where he had been born in 1877 drew him to return year after year. Beginning in 1899, he studied art in New York. In 1912 he left for Europe where he absorbed the influence of Cezanne, the Cubists, and the German Expressionists.


Hartley spent several years in Berlin painting enigmatic, abstract portraits loaded with coded symbols and personal imagery. Returning to the United States, Hartley turned to landscape and still life, painting in a new stripdown style of realism. He struggled to find a market for his avant garde paintings. By 1937, he had been travelling constantly for 25 years and the currents were pulling him home. Sixty-years-old, in poor health, and haunted by the drowning death a year before of a young man he had loved dearly, Hartley returned to Maine.


“End of Storm, Vinalhaven, Maine” uses flattened forms, bold black outlines, and a muted palette to essentialize the rocky coast, powerful surf, and dark evergreens. A lone cloud looms over the distant horizon. Hartley employed a rough painterly style which mirrors the turbulent weather. Writing to a friend in November 1937, he said, “I have a whole row of forceful sea pieces. Two of them depict crashing seas on the rocks and I am delighted with myself to come so near to the real thing and so alive and spontaneous.” At the end of his life, Hartley came full circle to create some of his most original paintings inspired by the stark landscape of his native state.


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