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American Impressions: Prints & Paintings by Childe Hassam

June 17 ­ September 25, 2005


(above: Childe Hassam, The Old Elm, ca. 1916, oil on canvas, 29 x 37 inches, Collection of the Asheville Art Museum)


The Asheville Art Museum is presenting an exhibition of the work of Childe Hassam, (1859 - 1935), one of the most prominent American Impressionist artists. This exhibition is a unique opportunity for the community to view the work of one of the great American painters. The works in this exhibition will likely never be seen together again. (right: Childe Hassam, Anna, ca. 1920, etching, 4.875 x 3.375 inches. Courtesy of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester)

American Impressions introduces a promised gift made to the Asheville Art Museum's permanent collection by longtime supporter of the arts Margaret Butler. Mrs. Butler has generously gifted the Museum Childe Hassam's painting The Old Elm, 1916. The painting will be shown for the first time in this exhibition. The Asheville Art Museum, and the Western North Carolina arts community, is fortunate to have Mrs. Butler's continued support and dedication.

The exhibition celebrates Hassam for his luminous and evocative painting and for his remarkable ability to translate the atmosphere and color of the Impressionist style into monochrome etchings. Hassam, a Boston native, displayed considerable skill as a young man, depicting Boston street scenes in a tonalist style with dramatic use of perspective. In Boston he began exploring his own patriotism which bloomed in later work, including his depictions of war-time New York City. He chose to paint contemporary scenes of life in contrast to American artists of his time who preferred subjects from the past.

The exhibition includes twenty prints by Childe Hassam borrowed from the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, NY, and oil paintings from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; the Florence Griswold Museum. Old Lyme, CT; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; the Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV and the Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA.

American Impressions is organized and curated by the Asheville Art Museum with the print portion organized and circulated by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. The exhibition is sponsored by the Midgard Foundation.


Childe Hassam was born Frederick Childe Hassam in historic Dorchester, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Born to a family of New England heritage with family origins tracing back to 1630 in Salem, MA and a grandfather that served in the Revoluntionary War, Hassam was fiercly proud of his American ancestry. His strong sense of patriotism was a common theme throughout his long and illustrious career, beginning in 1884 with a series of critically acclaimed images of urban life in Boston that have since become landmarks of American art.

In his early twenties, he traveled to Europe where, in 1886, he began a three-year course of study at the Académie Julian in Paris. He emerged from his stay in Paris deeply influenced by the Impressionist movement. On his return to America, he settled in New York, and integrated the French style of Impressionist painting with his passion for America. From this he created extraordinary paintings of distinctly American subjects, thus becoming a leader of the American Impressionist Movement. (right:Childe Hassam, Inner Harbor, Gloucester. Massachusetts, ca. 1918, lithograph, 11.5 x 7.75 inches,, Courtesy of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester)

In his 50's, Hassam began to explore the art of the prints. As in his paintings, his prints also embody the essence of sunlight and atmosphere.

Hassam, an extremely social man, was a member of several organizations including Ten American Painters, the Munich Secession, Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and the National Academy of Design.

Upon his death in 1935, all of his paintings were left to the American Academy & Institute of Arts and Letters. His work can be seen in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, PA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, and he was the subject of a major retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2004.


Lenders to the exhibition:

Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, NY
American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV
Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA


RL editor's note: Readers may also enjoy:

and this online lecture:

Washington University in St. Louis developed a Graduate Online Lecture Project. Click on "to the lectures," then "Humanities," then "Art History," then "Mike Murphy - Art History - A Double Vision: Stereoscopy, Urban Modernity and Childe Hassam's 'Rainy Day, Boston' " (2002). These lectures are components of doctoral dissertations by the lecturers.

rev. 8/30/05

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