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Three Friends

Marsden Hartley spent the years 1913 through 1915 in Berlin, where he met Expressionist painters Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. Christian iconography appeared prominently in the work of the German Expressionists, who interpreted traditional motifs as universal metaphors for human suffering and compassion. Hartley alluded to these concerns in his late painting Three Friends. It depicts three socially marginalized figures—the crucified Christ, a nearly nude boxer, and a clown. These figures appear unified through suffering, but also through prayer and companionship.

Marsden Hartley
American, 1877‒1943
Three Friends
1941
Oil on masonite
41 x 30 in. (104.1 x 76.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Sarahanne Adams Hope in memory of Henry R. Hope, 91.28