Berlin Ante War

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877 - 1943)

1914. Oil on canvas, 41 3/4 x 34 1/2. 1931.173

One of America’s pioneer Modernists, Marsden Hartley was living in Berlin when World War I broke out in August 1914. Hartley seems to have painted this work after his close friend Karl von Freyburg was killed in early October 1914. For Hartley, art was a personal spiritual quest, though he would not acknowledge or explain the presence of personal symbolism in his works. Ante-war means “prewar,” and the horseman in the clouds may be a heroic portrayal of the prewar von Freyburg. The frame was handmade by the artist.

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