Portrait of a German Officer

Artist: Marsden Hartley (American, Lewiston, Maine 1877–1943 Ellsworth, Maine)

Date: 1914

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 68 1/4 x 41 3/8 in. (173.4 x 105.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949

Accession Number: 49.70.42


This monumental painting is the centerpiece of a series that evokes the dynamism, pageantry, and danger of life in Berlin during World War I. The painting’s collagelike appearance, dramatic color, and emotional brushwork attest to Hartley’s skillful synthesis of Cubism and German Expressionism. Hartley’s composition is an abstract portrait of Karl von Freyburg, a Prussian lieutenant whom the artist loved and who died in the war. Von Freyburg is portrayed symbolically with the initials, "K.v.F."; his regiment number, 4; his age at death, 24; and the Iron Cross that he received posthumously.