Childe Hassam

Childe Hassam was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and trained as a wood engraver and illustrator at the Boston Art Club and the Lowell Institute. During the period that followed, the young artist secured work as a freelance illustrator in Boston and made painting expeditions into the surrounding countryside.  His works represented sites in Nonquitt, Beverly, Milton, Dedham, Nahant, Swampscott and Nantucket. In 1883 he made his first journey to Europe – Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, etc. - not for the purpose of studying art but to see the sites and to experience the landscape and the cities rather than paint them. Thus the artist worked in watercolor, a portable medium, throughout these travels, and although he was exposed to important artists of the day and was particularly affected by Turner. Hassam remarked that he was more taken with nature than with art. Ultimately he returned to Europe to focus on artistic training, specifically to Paris, in 1886, where he attended the Academie Julian and learned the techniques of the Impressionists.

In 1889, he returned to the United States and opened a studio in New York City. There, he met John Twachtman, J. Alden Weir and other American Impressionists through his involvement in clubs such as the Society of American Artists, the Players and the American Watercolor Society. He exhibited successfully in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York. The summer after his return to America, Hassam visited Appledore, Isles of Shoals, approximately nine miles off the New Hampshire and Maine coast. There, he was welcomed for many subsequent summers by his dear friend, the poet Celia Laighton Thaxter.  Celia “hosted a lively salon of writers, artists and musicians on the island from the 1860s, thus it was an enriching artistic atmosphere for Hassam.  Celia’s home not only provided a small artist colony, but her spectacular, wild garden inspired many paintings by Hassam. It was on the Isles of Shoals, and in Thaxter’s garden, that Hassam would paint a substantial portion of his oeuvre. Enchanted by the New England coastline, he spent his summers there between 1886 and 1916, save for the period when he was in France.