Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse) | Artopia

Marsden Hartley

A Closer Look

Marsden Hartley paints with contrasting colors in Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), using warm colors (reds, yellows and oranges) and cool colors (blues, violets and greens). He creates emphasis by placing cool colors on a warm colored background and vice versa. The point of interest is where your eye goes first in a painting. Here, it is the teepee that leads your eye to the black horse. Can you describe how Hartley uses other elements and principles of design in his painting?

About the Painting

Marsden Hartley made Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse) in Germany in 1915, after meeting Franz Marc. The horse in the middle of the painting shows the respect that Hartley had for Marc’s paintings of horses and other animals. Hartley also admired Native American art. Painting No. 4 is part of a series of paintings he did in 1914 and 1915 using Native American images and symbols.

About the Artist

Marsden Hartley was born into a poor family in Maine and never finished school because he had to go to work in a shoe factory. When he was sixteen he moved to New York City. Hartley had his first art show at Alfred Steiglitz's Gallery 291 in New York. Steiglitz, a well-known photographer and promoter of artists, introduced Hartley to the painters Georgia O'Keefe and Arthur Dove. They are all considered early American Modernists.



Modernism: a period of experimental developments in art, music, and literature, from around the 1860s to the 1970s . 


Write About It

  • Make a list of what you see.
  • How did the artist use the elements and principles of design?
  • What do you think the painting means? How does it make you feel?
  • Select two paintings to compare & contrast.