Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)


Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
oil on board
28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm.)
Painted circa 1942.
The artist.
Estate of the above.
Paul Rosenberg & Co., Inc., New York, acquired from the above.
Alfredo Valente Gallery, New York, acquired from above, 1960.
Development Office, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey.
[With]Joan Washburn Gallery, New York.
Private collection, New York.
[With]Joan Washburn Gallery, New York, 1987.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 1989.
Archives of American Art, Alan Chidsey Papers, Volume of Photographs of Paintings, Pastels, Drawings and Lithos by Marsden Hartley, Compiled by the Hartley Estate, 1944-60, roll N69-115, frames 27-403.
Archives of American Art, Elizabeth McCausland papers, 1838-1995, bulk 1920-1960, Series 6: Marsden Hartley, 1900-1964, box 16, folder 10, frames 1-2.
E.M. Kornhauser, Marsden Hartley, exhibition catalogue, Hartford, Connecticut, 2002, pp. 156, 161, 248, fig. 2, illustrated.
J. Coco, "Dialogues with the Self: New Thoughts on Marsden Hartley's Self-Portraits," Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies, vol. 30, 2005, pp. 635-36, fig. 5, illustrated.
New York, Alfredo Valente Gallery, Marsden Hartley, September 28-November 5, 1960, no. 17.
New York, Washburn Gallery, Major American Paintings, June 1987, no. 8, illustrated.
New York, Washburn Gallery, Major Paintings, Drawings & Photographs, November 22-December 3, 1994, no. 6.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Sara Friedlander
Sara Friedlander

Lot Essay

This work is included in Gail R. Scott's Marsden Hartley Legacy Project. We would like to thank Gail Scott for providing the note for this lot.

Though raised in the Episcopal Church, Marsden Hartley was never an adherent of any organized religion. Nevertheless, he had a lifelong, idiosyncratic involvement with a variety of spiritual traditions, especially Christian mysticism. He read widely among the medieval mystics and lives of the saints, wrote essays and poems on spiritual and religious themes, and incorporated imagery, iconography, and implicit and explicit Christian subjects into his art. In the last three years of his life, perhaps sensing his own mortality, Hartley became absorbed in depicting the pathos and suffering of Jesus’s crucifixion in eight major paintings and many drawings, the Ebsworth Christ being a powerfully emotive example. Examples from this series in public institutions include Christ Held by Half-Naked Men (1940-41, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.) and Christ Evicted (1941-43, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado).

As rendered by Hartley—perhaps, as has been noted, in a self-identifying way—these Christ figures are androgynous, with masculine beards and chest hair, but also feminized with long hair, sensitive, elongated facial features, and breasts. An elemental chromatic triad sets the tone of the painting: blood red in the background, lips and left nipple of the figure; inky black in the mass of head and chest hair; and ashen white skin. With expressionist mastery Hartley conveys the mystery and agony of the cross as no other American modernist dared to do.

More from An American Place | The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection Day Sale

View All
View All