CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
Childe Hassam was born in 1859 in Boston. He was descended from a long line of New Englanders, and Nathaniel Hawthorne was a distant relative. Hassam was athletic and after dropping out of school at 17, he worked as a draftsman for wood engraving shop and attended art classes in his spare time.
In 1886, Hassam moved to Paris for three years where he shifted in style from his previously rain focused works to one more influenced by the French Impressionists. He even rented a studio in Montmartre that was previously occupied by Renoir and in the abandoned canvases, Hassam saw a kindred spirit.
“I looked at these experiments in pure color and saw it was what I was trying to do myself,” Hassam remarked on these canvases.
Hassam found some success in Paris having shown in the Paris Salon in 1887. In 1889, Hassam and his wife returned to the U.S. He brought with him Impressionism that he applied to American life and scenes. Unlike the French Impressionists, Hassam showed life at its most light-filled and elegant as it was aimed at those who would and could buy his works. He treated his art as a business and created thousands of works in different mediums and showed in exhibitions everywhere.
His art of the 1890s and early 1900s was considered modern and radical for their use of light and color in contradiction to the still prevailing taste for works that looked like Old Masters. After the landmark 1913 Armory Show, Hassam’s work would appear more traditional to the emerging trends. Nevertheless, after the end of WWI, Hassam’s series of flagdraped streets and parades would become a breakthrough and are considered some of his most desirable works. Both a reflection of the mood of the time and Hassam’s increasingly fervent nationalism, these paintings are reflective of his continued adherence to American Impressionism that fused both the style and techniques of French Impressionism with uniquely American subjects and scenes.