Childe Hassam

Childe Hassam
Little "Muley" Hassam reveled in the obscurity concerning his name. Hassam chose "Muley," a corruption of the Arabic term for "master," in allusion to a 15th-century Moorish monarch who appears in Washington Irving's works to benefit from the misunderstanding caused by his nickname surrounding whether he was of Arabic ancestry. The moniker is appropriate given that Hassam's status as a leading figure in American Impressionist has not been confronted since his departure. Hassam's art became an enterprise that reflected the quick commercialization of America at the turn of the 20th century. French artists of the 1870s and 1880s heavily influenced him.

Early life and education

The Hassam family had close links to New England. His father was a Boston-based cutlery seller whose progenitors came to America from England in the 17th century under the name Horsham. Before it became Hassam, this name went through various pronunciation variations, which voiced concerns about the future artist's ancestry and led to some people assuming to Hassam's amusement—that he was a Yemeni.
Early on, Hassam became passionate about art, and one of his early recalls is of sheltering in an old coach his father had accumulated so that he could color in peace. An aunt noticed his ability as a kid and supported him by setting up meetings with nearby artists.
When his father's industry was wiped out by the fire in 1872, the family endured monetarily, forcing Hassam to drop out of school and find work to support the home. After only 3 weeks in the accounting section of a marketing firm, Hassam's boss mentioned that he might want to think about a future in art since he spent all of his time sketching. By following this instruction, Hassam could land a place in a wood carving business where he rapidly advanced to draftsman.

When his father's industry was wiped out by the fire in 1872, the family endured monetarily, forcing Hassam to drop out of school and find work to support the home. After only 3 weeks in the accounting section of a marketing firm, Hassam's boss mentioned that he might want to think about a future in art since he spent all of his time sketching. By following this instruction, Hassam could land a place in a wood carving business where he rapidly advanced to draftsman.

Early Training

Hassam had created his own workshop as a draftsman and individual painter for children's magazines and books by 1881. He also completed his art studies by registering for courses at the Lowell Institute and the Boston Art Club. At a Boston shop in 1882, he held his first solo show of about fifty watercolor drawings, some of which were of the scenery of the places he had visited, like Nantucket. In reality, Hassam's work would be strongly influenced by travel across the whole of his career, commencing with the first of many trips he took to Europe in 1883, during which time he drank heavily from the well of the French Art movement.

Hassam first met poet Celia Thaxter in the early 1880s. Celia Thaxter's dad built the Appledore House hotel on the Isles of Shoals in Maine, where she resided and streamed live many notable New England authors and theorists in a salon-like setting from the mid-to late-19th century, which include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Whittier, Sarah Orne Jewett, and William Later, Hassam praised the group as somehow being "jolly, refined, fascinating, and artistic...like one big family." Thaxter learned to paint from Hassam, and it was thought that the circle shape that started to appear in front of his autograph on works during this period was a nod to Thaxter, who, in her poems, connected a crescent sun to the artist's rising renown. The crescent ultimately became a basic slash, which later proved helpful when Hassam showed that a work thought to be his was a fabrication because of the crescent that was supposed to be there. Hassam painted numerous canvases and pastels of the seaside and Thaxter's spacious grounds.

Mature Period

Hassam and his wife moved to Boston in the fall of 1886, and they spent the next three years in Paris, where he joined the renowned Royal academy Julian and painted several metropolises and garden settings. After returning home, the Hassams made their home in New York City, where he assisted in starting the New York Water Color Civilization. Hassam was a remarkable character with a stylish sense of fashion who regularly wore tweed jackets and occasionally even terms internal and external.

Hassam first heard fellow illustrators John Twachtman and J. Alden Weir at the formal dinner for an American Water Color Society show not shortly after settling in New York. The three men's friendship was forged partly by their shared passion and ambition to generate Impressionist art. A relationship with Theodore Robinson, who had cooperated with Claude Monet in Giverny, France, helped to intensify this emphasis. The group of artists would travel together to study Monet's portraits and those of other Abstract expressionist greats, like Edgar Degas and Auguste Renoir, which were on display all over the city at the time.

Hassam, who found ambition in city life, spent most of his days drawing while he moved through New York City. He periodically used a stopped carriage as a workspace, with an easel on the seat next to him. During this moment, Hassam's work concentrated primarily on the effects of light on objects, which he caught in loose brushwork with intentional color choices, partly influenced by the French artists he had studied. He would become a pioneer of American Monet; as a result, a trend that received both pleasant and unpleasant evaluations from reviewers and the general public.

Afterlife

Hassam's technique expanded from the late 1890s, becoming even more painterly with rapid, thin brushstrokes that sporadically made it possible almost to see the surface around and under. The city's increasing sophistication, the newly constructed towers, and the new vacation spots he frequented, like East Hampton, Long Island, where Hassam would ultimately purchase a house, presented the artist with intriguing subjects.

Late in his career, Hassam drew inspiration at the start of World War I, which led to the creation of several prideful works and his unintended detention for a short period for painting the navy training drills taking place on the Hudson River. One of Hassam's most famous works, including images of American and other banners that adorned many sidewalks in New York City during such years, had the war as its central subject. The works uplifted the American spirit even while getting money for the military effort and portraying the strong patriotism of the time. Despite all of his efforts, Hassam struggled to protect the nearly thirty pennant paintings as a tribute after the conflict. This frustrated him, and in 1919 he wrote, "I have heard reports it! Nobody has ever heard of New York with a fine arts subscription... The excited Americans will have to pay train fares to travel to see them (the flag paintings), which will likely be sold in the west somewhere! What you do about it does not matter a lick to me."

Despite emerging as one of the early pioneers of a fresh American art movement, Hassam grew more forthright toward the end of his life against both emerging postmodern trends and European artists. He kept painting until his demise in 1935, despite deteriorating health and increasing drinking episodes.

Artworks by Childe Hassam

A Back Road 1884

Rainy Day, Columbus Avenue, Boston 1885

Grand Prix Day [Le Jour de Grand Prix] 1887-88

Poppies, Isles of Shoals 1891

Winter in Union Square 1894

Allies Day, May 1917

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The Avenue in the Rain

The Avenue in the Rain

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