After years of travel, Marsden Hartley proclaimed himself “the Painter from Maine.” This painting of Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, belongs to a series focused on the mountain. Following a visit there in October 1939, Hartley painted multiple canvases over a three-year period. He modified his palette to suggest different seasons in each painting. In Mt. Katahdin—November Afternoon, the contrast between the blue sky, purple mountains, and auburn woods evokes an early-winter day. Hartley identified with the remote peak, seeing it as an emblem of his own lonely resilience.
“Like the fires caught and fixed by a great colourist from the impermanence of the atmosphere and the sun, so that they should enter and adorn a human dwelling, they invited me, those chrysanthemums, to put away all my sorrows and to taste with a greedy rapture during that tea-time hour the all-too-fleeting pleasures of November, whose intimate and mysterious splendour they set ablaze all around me.” — Marcel Proust
“If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums.”
(a Chinese philosopher)
“A symbol of the sun, the Japanese consider the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals to represent perfection, and Confucius once suggested they be used as an object of meditation. It’s said that a single petal of this celebrated flower placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life. They’re the November birth flower.”
The Chrysanthemums – John Steinbeck