Lot 67
  • 67

Childe Hassam 1859-1935

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Description

  • Childe Hassam
  • Paris at Twilight
  • signed Childe Hassam and dated Paris 1887, l.l.
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York
Estate of Margaret Z. Van Beuren (sold: Christie's, New York, December 2, 1988, lot 217, illustrated in color and on the cover)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale

Catalogue Note

Childe Hassam’s Paris scenes are among the earliest impressionist images of urban life painted by an American.  The artist first traveled to Paris in 1886 to study at the prestigious Académie Julien with the hopes of “refining his talent in the larger crucible of contemporary art” (Donaldson F. Hoopes, Childe Hassam, New York, 1982, p. 13). Soon after arriving, he found himself increasingly attracted to the most radical group in the French artistic community – the impressionists – rather than the traditional academic painters.  Retaining his interest in urban subject matter that had first manifested itself in his Boston paintings, Hassam was particularly drawn to the cityscapes of artists such as Monet, Pisarro and Caillebotte, and the imagery of modern life their paintings recorded.

When asked why he began painting street scenes in an interview published in Art Amateur in 1892, Hassam recalled, “I lived in Columbus Avenue in Boston. The street was all paved in asphalt, and I used to think it very pretty when it was wet and shining, and caught the reflections of passing people and vehicles.  I was always interested in the movements of humanity in the street, and I painted my first picture from my window” (American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915, 1994, p. 174).  Columbus Avenue in Boston’s South End and Commonwealth Avenue was designed in 1869 to emulate the boulevards of Paris created by Baron Haussmann.  A common sight on the crowded streets, the horse-drawn carriage is a recurrent motif in Hassam’s oeuvre, one he painted in Boston, Paris and later in New York.  Many of the artist’s city views from this period focus on the constant motion of carriages in the streets, depicting both public and hansoms cabs and the elaborate private coaches on parade.

Hassam was equally interested in capturing the atmospheric effects of various times of day and the changing seasons. In the present painting the fading glow of twilight and cool violet sky mingle with a predominantly grey and brown palette to convey the crisp chill in the air.  Strollers make their way along the sidewalk, pausing to look inside inviting shop and restaurant windows as hansom cabs and bundled up coachmen wait patiently by the curb.  A dab of white at the top of the canvas defines the crescent moon, and scattered autumn leaves add hints of fall color to the cobblestone street. Paris Twilight combines passages of the rapid flickering brushstrokes of impressionism while it retains the more muted, tonalist palette of the artist’s earlier work.

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