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White Cod

Marsden Hartley

American Art

In White Cod, the American modernist Marsden Hartley transformed the traditional allegorical function of still life as a memento mori, a reminder that all living things must die, into a deeply personal memorial. The two dead cod most likely allude to the 1936 drowning of Alton and Donald Mason, sons of a Nova Scotia fishing family with whom he lived during the summers of 1935 and 1936. Hartley linked the deaths of his beloved friends to Christ’s martyrdom through the traditional Christian symbolism of the fish. His expressive brushwork and somber palette also enhance the emotional intensity of this painting.
MEDIUM Oil on composition board
DATES 1942
DIMENSIONS 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm) Frame: 31 1/2 x 37 1/2 x 3 in. (80 x 95.3 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower right: "M H / 42"
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Edith and Milton Lowenthal
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Estate of Marsden Hartley, Yale University Committee on Intellectual Property
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CAPTION Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943). White Cod, 1942. Oil on composition board, 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Edith and Milton Lowenthal, 1992.11.20. © Estate of Marsden Hartley, Yale University Committee on Intellectual Property
IMAGE overall, 1992.11.20_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
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