Childe Hassam 1859 - 1935
- Childe Hassam
- Harney Desert
signed Childe Hassam and dated 1908, l.l.
- oil on canvas
Bernard Danenberg Galleries, New York, 1968 (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, New York, 1968
Graham Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1989
Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Childe Hassam in Oregon, February-March 1953, no. 4
New York, A.C.A. Heritage Gallery, Childe Hassam, 1965, no. 6, illustrated
Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Childe Hassam: Impressionist in the West, December 2004-March 2005, no. 4
Childe Hassam painted Harney Desert in 1908, during his second visit to Oregon. He initially traveled to Oregon in 1904 to install a mural in the home of Colonel Charles Erskine Scott Wood, a Portland lawyer and founding trustee of the Portland Museum of Art. Fellow artist J. Alden Weir had introduced Hassam to Wood and soon, the two were good friends. Wood proved to be a valuable tour guide, hosting Hassam and showing the artist Portland and its varied surrounding areas, which included the coast, the mountains and eastern desert.
Hassam spent the majority of this two month return trip in 1908 painting and fishing in the Harney desert. This isolated region was forty miles from the nearest post-office and hundreds of miles from the closest railroads. In the quietude of the desert, Hassam painted forty canvases en plein air. In Harney Desert Hassam focuses on a butte covered in orange and yellow lichen, detailing the surfaces of the stone and shrubs surrounding it with short, staccato brushstrokes. Dynamic clouds, typical of the Oregon desert, stream across the sky while distant purple hills rise out of the horizon articulating the vast space and remote nature of this desert.
Margaret E. Bullock, Associate Curator of Art at the Portland Art Museum and author of Childe Hassam: Impressionist in the West, writes, "Hassam was clearly fascinated by the expansive skies, panoramic views, and insistent horizontality of the eastern Oregon landscape as well as its ruggedness and emptiness. He was also intrigued by its constantly shifting weather conditions and the resultant changes in light, color and atmosphere... Hassam's western paintings reflect his abiding sensitivity to the beauty of the world around him: its geology and structure, its atmospheric conditions and its changeable hues and textures at different times and seasons" (Childe Hassam: Impressionist in the West, 2004, p. 65).