Trees by a Lake
Oil on canvas board, circa 1910
Signed lower left
20 x 14 inches
What I most admire about this painting is the delicacy of the colors and the exquisite harmony of the color hues and tonalities. It is this visual harmony that makes the painting so aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately the ability to create a true harmony of colors is an almost lost skill in painting these days, but it was not lost among the talented painters of the nineteenth century.
Hardesty Maratta (1864-1924) is one of the relatively few Illinois artists from the nineteenth century for whom there remains interest by art collectors. Since he worked primarily in watercolor, oil paintings by Maratta are rather scarce.
Hardesty Maratta was part of the first generation of graduates from the Art Institute of Chicago. [Before 1882, the school was known as the Chicago Academy of Fine Art.]
There were few commercial galleries at the time. Maratta made his living partly from commissions from Juan Lorenzo Hubbell that involved copying early Navajo rugs so the designs could later be re-created by contemporary weavers.
Maratta did of course have time for his own artistic pursuits and that typically involved the painting of landscapes. In addition to painting scenes from the Midwest, he searched out other scenic locales. He traveled to California in the late 1890s; it is known that he painted in both Sacramento and Los Angeles.
Hardesty Maratta exhibited on a regular basis at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1888 and 1906.