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Childe Hassam
Improvisation
1899
oil
30 x 33 7/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly



Hassam's portrait of a friend glows with summertime light and luscious impressionist surfaces. The woman plays the piano for an audience of flowers, their individual vases arranged in artful informality, like her leisurely improvisation at the keyboard. She also shares this private moment with the colonial portrait of an ancestor at the harp, Hassam's subtle suggestion of a duet between past and present.