The Hyde Collection announced today that it has acquired a watercolor by the leading early American Modernist John Marin (1872-1953) titled Lake George. The painting, which depicts a view from Bolton Landing, was purchased at Sotheby’s auction house on June 9 with support from the Museum’s Charles R. Wood Acquisition Fund, and it marks the first major outright purchase of a work of art by The Hyde in a generation.
It is also the first work by John Marin to enter the permanent collection. Marin was a major figure in early American Modernism, best known for his inventive watercolors. His work is held in private collections and prestigious museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Blanton Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Historically, The Hyde has relied on gifts of art, whether through bequest or donation, to grow the collection,” stated Erin Coe, Director of The Hyde. “The purchase of this extraordinary Marin watercolor marks a turning point. We strategically identified a work of art that fills a gap in our collection, and we used our acquisitions fund to secure it. The fund was established in 2004 with a bequest made by the philanthropist Charles Wood, himself an avid collector of Modern art and someone with strong ties to our region and Lake George. We think he’d be very pleased with the purchase.”
Marin was born in New Jersey, but he was principally based in New York and Maine. Watercolor was his primary medium, and his distinct style, which offered a fluid blend of realism and abstraction, solidified his reputation as a groundbreaking Modernist. He was also an avid outdoorsman. Marin frequently depicted mountains and water in his work; in particular, his watercolors often focused on the rocky Maine coast. Lake George was executed during a formative decade in the artist’s career, when he began to move away from the naturalism of his earlier work into a Modernist, Cubist-influenced style.
Marin completed nine watercolors of Lake George. The majority of these were created in 1928, when Marin visited his friends Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe at their lakeside retreat known as “the Hill.” The watercolor acquired by The Hyde depicts the artist’s view from Bolton Landing. Interestingly, Marin used the same vantage point often represented by many nineteenth-century Hudson River School painters. The location of the other eight Marin Lake George watercolors are as follows: one is unknown, two are in museum collection (Rhode Island School of Design Museum and The Weatherspoon Museum of Art), and the rest are in private hands.
The provenance of the work is significant. It was owned for many years by the artist’s son, John Marin, Jr., and then by a collector in Florida. Original exhibition and owner labels are preserved on the backing board, and the watercolor is housed in its original frame. One label records that the work was exhibited by Alfred Stieglitz at his gallery An American Place, in 1930.
“This watercolor is particularly appropriate for the collection, as it greatly strengthens our holdings of early American Modernism that include an Arthur Dove watercolor and two works on paper by Abraham Walkowitz, both of whom were also members of the Stieglitz circle,” noted The Hyde’s Curator Jonathan Canning.
The Hyde is pleased to offer its visitors an opportunity to see the watercolor first hand. Beginning on Friday, July 1, the Museum will feature John Marin’s Lake George in the Hoopes Gallery, alongside a selection of other recent acquisitions to the Museum’s permanent collection.