“The Old Bars, Dogtown’’ (1936).
Just over a decade later, he made two series of paintings that are the subject of “Soliloquy in Dogtown,” a tight but captivating exhibition at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester.
Hartley (1877-1943) described Dogtown as “weird stretch of landscape . . . all boulders and shrubs.” It was, he said, “almost hostile to the common eye” and “like a cross between Easter Island and Stonehenge — essentially druidic in appearance.”
.....Hartley fell in love with Dogtown at a time when he was feeling forsaken himself. He was all but made for such a state. Born in Lewiston, Maine, he was an early orphan, and gay at a time when homosexuality was feared, suppressed, ridiculed, persecuted.
His first serious lover, Karl von Freyburg, a German soldier whom he had met in Paris, was killed in the first months of the Great War. Thereafter Hartley spent more than a decade wandering from town to town, from country to country, from continent to continent.