Hidden work by ‘the painter of Maine’ surfaces in Bank Vault

A painting by American modernist Marsden Hartley, which had been out of public view for 40 years, sits in a bank vault, an important step towards discovering the works of an increasingly esteemed artist who calls himself “the painter of Maine “considered, reports the AP. The painting, “Friend Against the Wind”, was completed in 1936, six years before Hartley’s death, and had its last known public exhibition in a Portland gallery in 1980, when it was sold to a private collector. When the collector died last year, his estate’s Maine art historian Gail Scott contacted and said the painting was stored near a vault in a Portland bank to protect it from theft.

Scott, who did not disclose the collector’s name, is working with the Bates College Museum of Art in Hartley’s hometown of Lewiston, Maine, to catalog the artist’s works, the Portland Press Herald reported Monday. Scott was shown the 12-by-17-inch painting by Hartley this summer in honor of Canadian friends who drowned in a hurricane, the newspaper reported. “It took a few months, but sure enough, I walked down to the Key Bank in downtown Portland and in the great vault and there was this painting that I had never seen in color and had never seen in person, “Scott told the newspaper. Scott and others knew of the existence of the painting of a black-and-white photograph included in a 1987 exhibition catalog.

The abode of about 240 of about 1,650 of Hartley’s paintings or works on paper is unknown. Scott and the Bates Museum, endowed with the Hartley Memorial Collection by the artist’s heirs, are working together on the Marsden Hartley Legacy Project to locate his work. “Hartley is increasingly recognized as one of the most important American modernists of the 20th century,” says museum director Dan Mills. “He is also one of the few of his generation and stature who does not have this kind of extensive scholarships available.” (Read more art stories.)


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