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Collection Spotlight

Marsden Hartley, Summer, Sea, Window, Red Curtain

Marsden Hartley
Summer, Sea, Window, Red Curtain, 1942
oil on masonite
museum purchase

Summer, Sea, Window, Red Curtain was painted during one of Marsden Hartley’s last full seasons in the fishing village of Corea, Maine. It is most likely the view through a window of lobsterman Forrest Young’s house where Hartley boarded from 1940 until his death in 1943. It was in a studio on the Young’s property that Hartley painted some of his strongest depictions of the rugged qualities of Maine’s landscape and people.

Returning to a compositional device he first explored in paintings of 1934–35, in Summer, Sea, Window, Red Curtain, Hartley frames the view of ocean, clouds, and island within a red-draped window and foreground table-top arrangement. Hartley paints the clouds, boat, island, and still-life elements with heightened attention to their geometry both tying them together and elevating them to energized characters within the composition. In this way, Hartley merges seascape and still life, realism and abstraction into a painting with a powerful and dynamic quality.

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