Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Historic American Painting and Works on Paper
Hassam made his first trip to Europe in 1883. From 1886 to 1889 he studied art in Paris, enrolling first in the Académie Julian, known at the time for its freedom, and its noisy and crowed studios. The school attracted many foreign students, as well as French ones, and Hassam was exposed to a wide variety of styles and approaches, including the artists who would become known as the Nabis. It was the work of the Impressionists, however, that initially attracted Hassam, and their impact on his already light-filled paintings, was to intensify and heighten his color senses. Although Hassam adopted the Impressionist broken brush stroke, and daubs of complementary colors, he, like many American artists, chose not to "dissolve" the figure in light and color as did many of the French Impressionists.
He arrived home in Boston in 1898, and there joined with Julian Alden Weir and John H. Twachtman in founding the Ten American Painters, a group of advanced painters who had all been exposed to French Impressionism. The Ten, as they were known, launched a series of important exhibitions, which were highly influential at the turn of the century, introducing certain tenets of Impressionism to a broader viewing public.
Hassam also exhibited his work frequently in annual exhibitions in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, including the Armory Show in 1913. His best-known works are based on themes of exquisitely-dressed young women, rainy or snow-covered city streets, flag-lined avenues, sea-side gardens, sun-drenched seascapes, and harbor scenes.
Hassam mastered a wide range of media, including oil, pastel, lithography, etching, and watercolor. Hassam's watercolors show great spontaneity, freshness, and originality. In this medium, Hassam's use of color is so bold and free, that, at times, it is released from its descriptive function, and appears to take on a life of its own.
Selected Permanent Collections:
Art Institute of Chicago
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
See: Warren Adelson, et al., Childe Hassam: Impressionist, 1999; Ilene Susan Fort, The Flag Paintings of Childe Hassam; David Park Curry, Childe Hassam: An Island Garden Revisited.