About the Artist
Through his work and deeds, Childe Hassam helped to bring Impressionism to mainstream America.
Frederick Childe Hassam was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. His father’s cutlery business was destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Although an uncle offered to send him to Harvard, Hassam chose, instead, to take a job to help support his family.
He took a job in the accounting department of the Little Brown & Co. publishing house and then worked with wood engraver, George Johnson, where he inscribed designs for commercial businesses and newspapers.
During this time, Hassam began to paint watercolors and hone his skills as an artist. He took painting classes at the Lowell Institute and studied figure drawing at the Boston Art Club. Hassam began to get freelance illustrating assignments from Harper’s Weekly and other magazines.
In 1883, Hassam had his first public exhibition at Boston’s Williams & Everett Gallery in Boston. After the exhibit, he dropped, “Frederick” and began to use “Childe” as his first name. He also made his first trip to Europe with painter Edmund H. Garrett, a fellow member of the Boston Art Club, to study the European Masters.
Family and Career
In 1884, Hassam married Kathleen Doane. The couple moved to Paris in 1886, where Hassam took classes at the Academie Julian and painted street scenes. He was inspired by the French Impressionists and, in 1889, won a Bronze Medal for work he exhibited at the Exposition Universale in Paris.
From Paris, Hassam and his wife moved to New York, where they rented an apartment on 5th Avenue. Hassam received much recognition for the paintings he did of the streets of New York.
In 1898, Hassam formed a group called, The Ten, with American Impressionist painters John Henry Watchman, J. Alden Veir and others. The group exhibited, and remained together, for twenty years.
Late Career and Legacy
By 1910, Hassam’s career had taken off. He went back to Europe and began his series of Flag Paintings, both in Paris and New York. One of Hassam’s Flag Paintings hangs in the oval office, others at the Met and other galleries around the world.
Hassam helped to organize the Armory Show in New York, which brought together the works of young French and American artists and exposed their work to the American public. By then, Impressionism was mainstream and Cubism and Fauvism was were coming under harsh scrutiny from critics.
Hassam prospered throughout his career, but especially during the 1920s, when his work was coveted by museums, galleries and private collectors. He was honored with a Gold Medal of Honor from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Hassam bought a house in East Hampton, where he painted and railed against Cubism and other styles considered avant-garde at the time. Hassam died in 1935, at the age of 75, leaving behind about 3,000 extraordinary works of art.