Hartley writes a long letter to Anne Traubel discussing his loneliness, the nature surrounding him, and his painting. He had a close friendship with Anne and her husband, Horace Traubel (1877-1943), author and biographer of Walt Whitman ("With Walt Whitman in Camden," published 1906). Hartley begins with a comment that her "beautiful letter" arrived "in the silences...It is a beautiful message for any one to deliver, this dark man's message...I sit writing you after having started a picture, done a washing which lies purifying in the sun on the grass. This hermit life which I live - curiously unlike me, does not bring me all the happiness it should..." He continues, “I am free to confess that as yet art has never been more than love and friendship nor has it been less – some would say it has nothing to do with either of them because art is purely intellectual and has little to do with the simple emotion – However I have painted on a picture – I have alluded to the needs of my body…and so I am feeling the loneliness in the presence of these beautiful unhuman things – there is too much peace, there is too much indifference too much of supremacy of mighty things…that know not what it is to be human…I desire only a human hand to touch a big broad shoulder to brush by…a smile to be conscious of …These are the emotions that fill me here as the sun is nearly noon high….” He describes the vegetable garden he was planting earlier in the morning before painting. He mentions that the next day is, “Whitman’s dinner day isn’t it,” and that he would like to attend to see people he would otherwise not meet. He mentions Mildred Bain. Frank and Mildred Bain were supporters and friends of Whitman and of the Traubels. Hartley sends his love to Horace and signs, “Marsden H.” Small tear on the fourth page affecting one word, "dinner."
Shortly before he wrote this letter, Hartley had exhibited 15 works in the Independents Exhibition. A group of New York artists sought to establish academy-independent shows in 1910 and 1911. The 1911 show, called the “Independent Exhibition of the Paintings and Drawings of Twelve Men,” was held at the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects and organized by Rockwell Kent and Arthur B. Davies. In 1912, the year following our letter, Alfred Stieglitz offered Hartley his second solo show at Stieglitz’ 291 Gallery. The show was quite successful, having sold a number of paintings to Agnes Meyer who became a benefactor. The sales to Meyer helped to enable Hartley to travel in Europe to study and paint. He left in 1912 and did not return until 1915.