The Summer Camp, Blue Mountain
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Arty Fact

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Ah, Maine! The land of summer camp, blue mountains, and unforgettable childhoods.

At least, so it was for Marsden Hartley. Being the youngest child in a family of 11 should give you awesome perks, right? That wasn’t true for Hartley. A few years after his mother’s death, Hartley (about 15 years old at the time) was sent to live in Auburn, then made to drop out of school and work in a shoe factory. 

In 1906, Marsden returned to Lewiston, Maine to teach art. He had spent the last few years studying art in New York. Maine was his connection to his mother. Her death had left him miserable and lonely. Here, sitting in the Public Library, he found the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. They kept him company.

By 1907, Marsden was thinking of abandoning his artistic career. Teaching really wasn’t going well. It was too uncertain he said. Marsden got a job doing maintenance work for a property in Green Acre. It was a spiritual center of some kind. Hartley spent the summer and fall here. He spent the winter in Boston and sold one of his paintings for $200 more than its quoted price. Marsden had been discovered. It was time to go back to Maine.

In late May 1908, Marsden moved to the foothills of Lovell. This was the last stop in his adventure. It is believed that the painter was living on an abandoned farm while he was there. He made an astonishing series of landscapes here. One of them being Summer Camp, Blue Mountain. He would walk around Kezar lake, spending his days hiking and painting. It was during this period that Marsden started veering towards abstraction. This painting, however, retained his ideas of impressionism



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  8. Hole, Heather, and Barbara Buhler Lynes. Marsden Hartley and the West: the Search for an American Modernism:New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.