Painting No. 4 pays tribute to Lieutenant Karl von Freyburg, a German cavalryman killed on the western front in October 1914, shortly after the start of World War I. Marsden Hartley, who lived in Berlin from 1913 to 1915, was enamored with the young officer and the regimented pageantry that came with his military position. The loss of von Freyburg dealt a devastating blow to the artist, prompting him to create a series of moving and intricately symbolic paintings. This composition combines the bright colors, flattened space, and simplified forms of modernist painting with allusions to von Freyburg and to Native American cultures, the latter of which Hartley perceived as peaceful when compared to wartime Europe.
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