signed Childe Hassam and dated 1908, l.l.; also signed with the artist's initials CH, dated 1908 and inscribed The East Headland, Appledore./Isles of Shoals on the reverse
(Milch Galleries, New York, 1935)
American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, 1935 (by bequest)
John Fox, Boston, Massachusetts, 1951
Babcock Galleries, New York, circa 1960
Meredith Long & Co., Houston, Texas
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1965
Private Collection, Brewster, New York
Estate of Victoria Dreyfus, Brewster, New York, until 1976 (sold: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, October 28, 1976, lot 134, illustrated in color)
Private Collection, (acquired at the above sale)
Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts
Private Collection (acquired from the above; sold: Christie's, New York, May 23, 2001, lot 31)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale
Upon his return from Paris in 1889, Childe Hassam traveled to Appledore, one of the remote, rocky islands that make up the Isles of Shoals located off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. Hassam's friend Celia Thaxter, the well-known poet and gardener, had a summer home on Appledore and her gracious hospitality invariably attracted a large group of artists, writers and musicians to a kind of informal summer colony at the island retreat. The easygoing, familial atmosphere, along with the beauty of Thaxter's exuberant gardens and the island's dramatic, rocky shoreline greatly appealed to Hassam, and he returned each summer for nearly thirty years. Appledore's striking landscape also became the subject of many of Hassam's most celebrated Impressionist paintings. David Park Curry notes, "The finest Shoal images, created between 1889 and 1912, coincide with the full flowering of Hassam's powers as a painter...Fresh and invigorating, the Isles of Shoals pictures stand out vividly against Hassam's huge body of work as a whole. Memories of long-gone summers reach across the years, for his best pieces are still charged with the artist's sense of adventure as he took chances with composition, let go with color" (D.P. Curry, An Island Garden Revisited, New York, 1990, p. 14).
Hassam and his hostess shared a fascination for the ancient layers of bedrock exposed along the island's shore. Thaxter wrote at length about the topography of Appledore, describing the coastline's appearance as: "Rifts and chasms, and roughly piled gorges, and square quarries of stone, and stairways cut as if by human hands. The trap rock, softer than the granite, is worn away in many places, leaving the bare perpendicular walls fifteen or twenty feet high...In some places, the geologist will tell you, certain deep scratches in the solid rock mean that here the glacier ground its way across the world's earlier ages" (Curry, p. 156).
Appledore, "allowed Hassam to explore the full range of his palette. In an otherwise intractable environment, Hassam was liberated by a gorgeous saturation of color and light...Hassam was, by all evidence, alive to nature and charged by its dynamic beauty. The island's bracing climate coupled with his enthusiasm for an active life and the special pleasures of ocean bathing made his visits there invigorating" (W. Adelson, Child Hassam: An American Impressionist, New York, 1999, p. 82). Painted in 1908, The East Headland, Appledore – Isle of Shoals, conveys the wild beauty of the ancient landscape, as well as the immediacy through which the artist experienced it. The sun drenched scene is distinguished by the artist's use of intensely colored pigments – blue, green, purple, pink, yellow and orange – and touches of white, which are further enhanced by the artist's vigorous brush strokes. As Thaxter remarked, "Nothing takes color so beautifully as the bleached granite; the shadows are delicate, and the fine, hard outlines are glorified and softened beneath the fresh first blush of sunrise" (Curry, p. 181).
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