This week we are paying homage to renowned American impressionist painter, Childe Hassam, who was born on October 17th, 1859. As one of the artists who propelled impressionism into American consciousness, Hassam’s artwork continues to be treasured by collectors, artists, and museums today.
Childe Hassam, Grand Prix Day, 1887. Oil on canvas. 61.28 x 78.74 cm (24 1/8 x 31 in.). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund.
Notably, Hassam was one of the founding members of “The Ten,” a group of ten American impressionist painters who formed in 1898 to exhibit their work as a group. He was also a member at the Copley Society of Art, and exhibited some of his art at the gallery space in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Childe Hassam, Coast Scene, Isles of Shoales, 1901. Oil on canvas. 63.2 x 76.5 cm (24 7/8 x 30 1/8 in.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of George A. Hearn, 1909.
A Boston native, Childe Hassam began his career after taking art classes at the Lowell Institute and at the Boston Art Club. While Hassam later found inspiration during his travels across the United States and Europe, the Boston landscapes and cityscapes inspired Hassam early on.
Childe Hassam, At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight), 1885–86. Oil on canvas. 106.68 x 152.4 cm (42 x 60 in.). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Miss Maud E. Appleton.
Neighborhoods such as Back Bay, the South End, and Park Square were depicted in Hassam’s urban landscapes—a genre that was new at the time of their creation. City scenes were inspirational in their light, architecture, and modern-day liveliness. Speaking on his 1885 oil painting, Rainy Day, Boston, Hassam said that “The street was all paved in asphalt, and I used to think it very pretty when it was wet and shining, and caught the reflections of passing people and vehicles.”
Childe Hassam, Rainy Day, Boston, 1885. Oil on canvas. 1220 x 663 cm. Toledo Art Museum, Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott.
Childe Hassam, Acorn Street, Boston, 1919. Watercolor on paper.
Childe Hassam’s career spanned over fifty years, and his legacy as one of the quintessential American impressionist painters holds to this day. His impressionist style was distinctly American, inspirational, and helped pave the way for artists after him.
The Peabody Essex Museum recently featured an exhibition on Childe Hassam’s Paintings of Appledore. Read more about “American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals” in Boston Magazine’s review of the exhibition, here.
Cover Image: Childe Hassam, Charles River and Beacon Hill, about 1892. 40.96 x 45.72 cm (16 1/8 x 18 in.). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Tompkins Collection–Arthur Gordon Tompkins Fund