Childe Hassam (1859-1935)

Biography

Childe Hassam was a prominent and prolific American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes. Hassam was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to American collectors, dealers, and museums. He produced over 3,000 paintings, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs in his career, and his most famous works are the "Flag" paintings, completed during World War I.

Childe Hassam was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He studied at the Boston Art School and in 1883 moved to Paris to study with two academic artists, Louis Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. These years in Paris, occurring as they did when Impressionism had reached its peak of influence, were important to Hassam. When he returned to America, he began to paint in the Impressionistic style and, in 1898, he joined with Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, and seven other American artists to form a group called "The Ten". Their purpose was not merely to exhibit jointly but also, by so doing, to revolt against the stifling force of accepted academic styles. They wanted to do for American art and taste, what European artists were accomplishing abroad.

Hassam was a resident of New York City and his favorite subjects were aspects of New York life, which he presented with a light, sparkling palette, endowing streets and buildings with the light and color inherent in Impressionism. He also painted some rural New York and New England landscapes with the same light touch.

His most famous painting, The Avenue in the Rain (1917), which has been in the White House permanent collection since the Kennedy administration, was chosen by Barack Obama on entering the White House to display it in the Oval Office. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society, and the National Gallery of Art all own a Hassam flag painting.