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Childe Hassam

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Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer




Childe Hassam (U.S., 1859–1935)
Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester
, 1909
Watercolor and gouache on paper
8 7/16 x 11 7/16 in.
Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000


Impressionism came to the United States more than a decade after the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, but, by the early 1890s, the style had achieved widespread popularity among American artists and collectors. Childe Hassam would become one of the most influential American Impressionists after adopting the style in 1887. Originally from Boston, he had worked as a commercial draftsman and illustrator before attending the Académie Julian from 1886 to 1888. He relocated to New York City in 1889 and was elected an Academician in the National Academy of Design in 1906.

Thereafter, Hassam enjoyed commercial and critical success for his images of New York City and the New England countryside. Like other artists of his day, he was drawn to the numerous art colonies of the region, including the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire, Old Lyme and Cos Cob in Connecticut, and Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. He painted Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester during a visit to the latter in September 1909. Using a spare palette, he laid in areas of relatively unmodulated color to define the forms of the beach, the figures, and the boats that line the spit of land in the foreground. He left significant areas of the paper unpainted in order to focus solely on passages of reflected light. His technical approach, in this respect, suggests some familiarity with the Divisionism of Paul Signac and other Neo-Impressionists. Although Hassam maintained his interest in Impressionism for the remainder of his career, he flirted with abstraction occasionally during the 1910s and after, and Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester may be an early experiment with aesthetic alternatives.