Childe Hassam, the preeminent American Impressionist painter has always found great favor with both collectors and the general public. And In this lovely painting, “The English Girl” we understand why. Strong light fascinated Hassam, and here it is even in the delicate cool palette he decided to set as its tone. The painting beautifully illustrates the delicate balance between the natural inclination of impressionism to dissolve form, and the artist’s ever-present, on point draftsmanship that allows him to push color in any direction he chooses. It also carries Hassam’s signature brushstrokes of semi-transparent pigment applied diagonally or vertically with a precise, yet lambent touch; an inclination as elegant in its execution as the mood it seeks to project.
There is more here than the contented repose of a high-class woman holding a rose. This painting is yet another example of how American impressionists chose to depict women during the late 19th and early 20thcentury. They did so with respect, even reverence. Hidden, perhaps in the idealized projection is a woman not objectified; but one that has a life and thoughts of her own. Stillness, solitude, and optimism. Ultimately, it is the model’s relaxed demeanor that suggests the real intent Hassam hoped “The English Girl” would convey: the importance of restfulness and the calm that enhances the viewer’s perception of beauty.