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Modern American Masterworks from the Ted Shen Collection

New England Sea View—Fish House

New England Sea View—Fish House
signed and dated 'Marsden Hartley/1934' and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
oil on board
18 x 24 in. (45.7 x 60.9 cm.)
Painted in 1934.
The artist.
Estate of the above.
Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, acquired from the above, 1944.
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur B. Lathrop, Indianapolis, Indiana, acquired from the above, 1944.
Parke-Bernet, New York, 10 December 1970, lot 39, sold by the above.
Hudson D. Walker, New York, acquired from the above.
Private collection, by descent.
Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1997.
Archives of American Art, Elizabeth McCausland Files.
Magazine of Art, vol. 29, 1936, p. 330, illustrated.
H. Kramer, "Art: From Gloucester the Bypassed Haven," The New York Times, February 5, 1982.
G.R. Scott, Marsden Hartley, New York, 1988, pp. 103-05, pl. 92, illustrated.
B. Weber, The Heart of the Matter: The Still Lifes of Marsden Hartley, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2003, p. 63, fig. 48, illustrated.
New York, An American Place, Marsden Hartley: First Exhibition in Four Years, All Pictures Show for the First Time Publicly, March 22-April 14, 1936, one of nos. 16-22 (as Fish House Vista - New England Coast).
Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore Museum of Art, The Work of Three Outstanding Contemporary American Painters: Hartley - Intellectual, Cadmus - Satirist, Burchfield - Romanticist, July 1-September 3, 1942.
San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art, Contemporary Painting Exhibition, 1944.
New York, Museum of Modern Art; Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College, Lawrence Art Museum; Buffalo, New York, Albright Art Gallery; Chicago, Illinois, Arts Club of Chicago; Austin, Texas, University of Texas, College of Fine Arts; Jacksonville, Illinois, MacMurray College; San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art; Colorado Springs, Colorado, Taylor Museum; Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walker Art Center, Lyonel Feininger/Marsden Hartley, October 24, 1944-1945, pp. 78, 91-93 (as New England Fish House).
London, Hayward Gallery, The Modern Spirit: American Paintings 1908-1935, September 28-November 20, 1977, no. 128 (as New England Fish House).
Ontario, Canada, The Gallery, Coasts, The Sea, and Canadian Art, July 28-October 1, 1978, n.p., no. 17.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, William Carlos Williams and the American Scene, December 12, 1978-February 4, 1979, p. 52, fig. 15, illustrated.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago; Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum; Berkeley, California, University Art Museum, Marsden Hartley, March 4, 1980-January 4, 1981, p. 108, no. 72, pl. 49, illustrated.
Southampton, New York, The Parrish Art Museum, An American Place, May 24-July 19, 1981, n.p., no. 21.
New York, Grace Borgenicht Gallery, The Gloucester Years, February 6-March 4, 1982.
New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Marsden Hartley: Paintings and Drawings, March 6-April 27, 1985, n.p., no. 27, illustrated.
Brooklyn, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects, March 2-July 1, 2001.
San Francisco, California, Berggruen Gallery, American Modernism, June 4-August 24, 2018.
Brooklyn, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects, March 2-July 1, 2001.
Further details
This painting is included in The Marsden Hartley Legacy Project: Complete Paintings and Works on Paper, with Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine. We are grateful for Gail R. Scott’s assistance with the cataloguing of this work.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

Seeking respite from urban life and financial burdens, in 1934 Marsden Hartley ventured to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he painted both seascapes and still lifes including New England Sea View - Fish House. In the present work, Hartley paints a vista from what appears to be a local fish house, framing a brilliant blue seascape with sailboats in the distance. In classic Hartley fashion, he uses energetic brushstrokes to depict a cornucopia of marine symbols and objects, which brilliantly convey both the rustic nature of the fish house and ruggedness of the New England sea.

Hartley’s close friend and Stieglitz Circle associate, the celebrated poet William Carlos Williams, particularly admired the present work. Dickran Tashjian notes, “Since the poet could not afford the original, Hartley gave him an inscribed reproduction in 1936. The fish and the sea view in the background combine Williams’ admiration of Hartley’s still lifes and the requisite sense of place.” (William Carlos Williams and the American Scene: 1920-40, New York, 1978, p. 52) Art critic Hilton Kramer also praised in a 1982 review: “New England Sea View - Fish House anticipates some of the strength and melancholy that Hartley brought to the Maine paintings of his final years.” (The New York Times, February 5, 1982, p. 21)

Gail Scott writes regarding the present work, “Opposites of near and far, closed and open mesh in a tightly controlled web of shape, line and color. The black outline of the fish-house window becomes a ship in a bottle, its lower edge melting into a sandy shore, a transition space before the distant sea. Interior and exterior come together in the blue and white of sea, sky, cloud, and wave, reflected on the bodies of the two fish. In contrast to this grip on the composition the actual handling of the paint is loose and free, accentuated by scored hatch marks (also seen in the Dogtown works of that summer) on nets, piers, and cork floats.” (Marsden Hartley, New York, 1988, p. 104)

A related work titled Sea View, New England (1934) is in the collection of The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

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