Childe Hassam
(1859 - 1935)

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Helen Willis at Easthampton, 2


Frederick Childe Hassam was initially trained as an apprentice to a wood-engraver in Dorchester, Massachusetts. From the late 1870s to the mid-1880s he executed drawings for the illustration of books, particularly children’s stories. Hassam’s first significant body of non-graphic work was in watercolor. He executed a group of freely washed, light-filled drawings of local landscapes, which provided the basis for his first one-man show in 1882 at the Boston galleries of Williams & Everett. Hassam attended evening classes at the Boston Art Club and by 1883 had a studio on Tremont Street in Boston.

Late in 1886 Hassam and his wife, Kathleen Maud, departed for France and spent the next three years abroad. They settled in Paris, and Hassam began lessons in drawing at the Académie Julian with Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. His work of these years reflects his growing awareness of the French Impressionists; he consistently used broken brushstrokes, and his palette rapidly became brighter. Hassam preferred to consider himself a painter of ‘light and air’ in a general sense rather than be labeled an Impressionist.

In 1889 Hassam settled in New York. He continued to depict urban scenes just as he had in Boston, a genre with which he became so closely identified. In the summer seasons he traveled to artistic resorts throughout New England. Around 1884 he visited Appledore Island, one of the Isles of Shoals off the Maine–New Hampshire coast, and he returned there repeatedly during the early 1890s to produce some of his finest and most sophisticated Impressionist watercolors and oils. By 1892 Hassam was exhibiting regularly at the annual exhibitions of most of the major art institutions on the East Coast, including the Boston Art Club, American Water Color Society, National Academy of Design, New York Water Color Club, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Art Club. In 1898 he helped to organize the first exhibition, in New York, of the Ten American painters.

Between 1900 and 1910 Hassam continued to live and work in New York, during the warmer months visiting the artistic colonies at Cos Cob and Old Lyme, Connecticut; his brand of Impressionism influenced not only students and amateur artists who gathered there, but also fellow American Impressionists such as Julian Alden Weir and Willard Leroy Metcalf.

“Hassam, Childe.” In Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online.



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