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Marsden Hartley and the Sea

Through September 8, 2024

Marsden Hartley, Stormy Sea No. 2 (detail), 1936, Oil on Academy Board, 12 1/8 x 16 inches, Museum purchase made possible in part by gifts from Mr. Edwin L. Beckwith and Dr. Peter Sheldon, 1983.2

Exhibition Dates

Through September 8, 2024

Buy Tickets Exhibitions are free with admission.


Marsden Hartley and the Sea

October 6, 2023 – September 8, 2024

Painter and writer Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) was haunted by the memory of three young men who drowned in a storm off Eastern Points Island, Nova Scotia in September 1936, while he was boarding with their family, the Masons. He painted several versions of that remembrance, into imagery of clouds and a lone boat tossed by waves. Upon returning to Maine in 1937, he painted the rocky shorelines, birds, and fish of Vinalhaven Island and other fishing villages, where people were “so true and real like the sea and rocks.” He depicted the granite cliffs molded by the ceaseless ocean tides that, in their ebb and flow, sustain and take away life.

Marsden Hartley and the Sea brings together a selection of paintings inspired by the painter’s memory of Nova Scotia as well as other works made on Vinalhaven from the late 1930s. These works are contextualized with objects from the Farnsworth’s collection that also examine life at sea, both past and present. The exhibition makes rich connections to the fishing industry, maritime life, and the changing natural environment in coastal Maine.

Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges.