Christie's NY To Sell Re-Discovered, Restituted Hartley Masterwork This May Christie’s is delighted to announce the consignment for sale of Marsden Hartley’s
Lighthouse – an American Modernist masterwork
News-Antique.com - Apr 20,2008 - Christie’s is delighted to announce the consignment for sale of Marsden Hartley’s
Lighthouse – an American Modernist masterwork and the finest painting of its kind to be offered in a
generation. An oil on canvas measuring 40 by 30 inches, and created in Berlin in 1915, Lighthouse is
presently on exhibit for the first time in the United States. Until now, the painting had remained in
Germany, where it only recently came to light after its rediscovery in an East German museum.
Estimated at $5 to $7 million, Lighthouse is expected to set a new auction record for Hartley when it
is offered for sale on May 21 at Christie’s New York auction of Important American Paintings, Drawings
and Sculpture. A high-point of Hartley’s early modernism, Lighthouse combines elements of Cubism
and Expressionism into a monumental work of power and originality. Few modernists ever equaled
the achievement of Hartley’s Berlin paintings, which are widely admired as the earliest and most
compelling examples of American Modernism.
Eric Widing, Head of American Paintings, Christie’s Americas, says: “In the 1910s, Hartley’s
modernism established a foundation for the exploration of a new visual vocabulary in American art.
One of the finest of his Berlin pictures, and among the greatest works Hartley ever produced,
Lighthouse represents a rare example in private hands of a series critically important to the
development of American modernism. Its premier exhibition in the United States this month is a
In recent months, the German courts restituted Lighthouse to its rightful owners, a German family
who lost the painting during the Second World War, when the painting was seized by the Soviet
authorities at the end of the conflict. Since 1954 it has been stored in a museum in Eastern
Marsden Hartley and Lighthouse
Out of the social, political and personal turmoil of his seminal trip to Europe from 1912 to 1915,
Hartley produced some of his most important and original works of art. One of the artist’s last
works created in Berlin, Lighthouse was painted in April, 1915, shortly before Hartley was forced to
return to America due to the duress of the war.
Earlier in his career, Hartley had befriended the photographer and art dealer, Alfred Stieglitz, who
offered him his first one man show at his gallery, 291, in May of 1909. Stieglitz also introduced him
to the work of several contemporary European modernists whose art inspired Hartley to travel
abroad. With Stieglitz’s assistance, he left for Paris in April 1912.
In Paris, Hartley befriended the famed ex-patriot writer Gertrude Stein and her brother, Leo, who
introduced the artist to their famed salon where he encountered the work of Modern masters such
as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne. On occasion, he met a few of
these celebrated painters in person, while also forming a close relationship with a group of German
artists who introduced him to the abstractions of Wassily Kandisky and Franz Marc-- as well as to
the German expressionist