Mount Katahdin (Maine) was painted in 1939 by Marsden Hartley, and is soon on show in a new exhibition of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The show opens with an inspired stroke of scene-setting: a mural-size film projection of waves crashing against a bleak stretch of Maine’s Atlantic coastline.
The artist had conflicted feelings about his spiritual home at Lewiston. His father was an English immigrant and worked in a textile mill. His mother died when he was eight. Hartley was inconsolable and stayed that way. The earliest picture in the show, “Shady Brook ” from 1907, is a landscape in a wispy Romantic style and may depict a scene he recalled from childhood.
“Log Jam, Penobscot Bay,” is from 1940 (Detroit Institute of Arts) and hints at other plants of the Maine landscape, long extinct.
These are the famous Early Devonian fossils from the cliffs where New England faces the Atlantic. Psilophyton grew there 400 million years ago.
A well-known Hartley figure is more recent and is on show at the Met: