Frederick Childe Hassam

(Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1859 - 1935)

North America, American

Childe Hassam was an American impressionist painter and printmaker whose energy and organizing zeal would prove crucial to the eventual success of the movement in America. Hassam received artistic training at the Boston Art Club in the early 1880’s and at the Académie Julian in Paris from 1886 to 1889. In France he became aware of the new painting—impressionism—and marveled at the work of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who he first discovered after finding paintings in his Paris studio that Renoir, the previous tenant, had left behind. After returning to America, Hassam helped to found the Ten American Painters, a group who shared a desire to exhibit their works free from the constraints of the conservative Society of American Artists. Hassam was active in a number of New England artist colonies, including Cos Cob and Old Lyme, Connecticut, but is particularly associated with his friend the poet Celia Thaxter’s home on the remote Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire, where artists and writers gathered every summer for nearly twenty years.

Although Hassam is best known for his bright and airy paintings, especially his late series of paintings depicting patriotic flags flying in New York City, he also produced a number of dreamy, allegorical depictions of nudes in the landscape. A prolific painter, Hassam’s enormous body of work includes over 2,000 works in oil, watercolor and pastel and around 400 etchings. Upon his death he left almost 500 works to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the proceeds from which would be used to support younger painters.

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