Childe Hassam

born Dorchester, MA 1859-died East Hampton, NY 1935
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Childe Hassam, 1908, © Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001736
Also known as
  • F. Childe Hassam
  • Frederick Childe Hassam
Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States
East Hampton, New York, United States
Active in
  • California, United States
  • Oregon, United States
  • New York, New York, United States
  • Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire, United States

Painter and illustrator. Hassam was a leading American Impressionist whose work was much influenced by Claude Monet. His landscapes, street scenes, and interior scenes were both popularly and officially recognized.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Artist Biography

Frederick Childe Hassam, the scion of an old New England family (his surname is a corruption of Horsham), grew up in the upper-middle-class suburb of Dorchester, Massachusetts. His father, a Boston merchant and hardware store owner, collected Americana well before this hobby became a popular pastime. He passed this interest in history along to his son. It is telling that the future artist first dabbled with a brush while sitting in the old coach that carried the Marquis de Lafayette through New England on his triumphal tour in 1824–25! Hassam, like many of his fellow artists, traveled to Europe for instruction in the 1880s and eventually settled in New York. Exposed to the full measure of urban hustle and bustle, Hassam returned to the past as often as he could and during the last forty years of his life traveled from one historic summer resort to the next, painting picturesque villages and towns throughout New England. The past is therefore a living presence in Hassam's art. While his village scenes may appear quaint, they are also active statements about the importance of traditional New England values and institutions in an era of great change.

William H. Truettner and Roger B. Stein, editors, with contributions by Dona Brown, Thomas Andrew Denenberg, Judith K. Maxwell, Stephen Nissenbaum, Bruce Robertson, Roger B. Stein, and William H. Truettner Picturing Old New England: Image and Memory (Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn; and London: National Museum of American Art with Yale University Press, 1999)

Luce Artist Biography

Childe Hassam learned the value of hard work after his father’s hardware store burned to the ground and Hassam left school to work as a wood engraver. He made illustrations for newspapers in his hometown of Dorchester, Massachusetts, and began painting scenes of urban life in the 1880s. Ambitious and determined, Hassam settled in New York with his wife, Maude, and set to work painting the booming city. In the summer months he traveled around New England and to Appledore Island off the coast of New Hampshire. A sociable and extroverted character, Hassam surrounded himself with friends who enjoyed lively dinner parties that lasted late into the evenings. (Broun, “Childe Hassam’s America,” American Art, Fall 1999)


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An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection
November 3, 2006February 4, 2007
The exhibition is the first time this remarkable collection has been on display in Washington, D.C. Marie and Hugh Halff, who live in San Antonio, acquired these masterpieces during the past 20 years.
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Graphic Masters I: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
November 21, 2008May 24, 2009
Graphic Masters I: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum is the first in a series of special installations that celebrate the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists' works on paper.

Related Books

Book cover of American Impressionists
American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates Treasures to Go, a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.
An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection
This full-color catalogue provides a rare insight into a stunning private collection of American Art. Hugh and Marie Halff, connoisseurs based in San Antonio, Texas, have read, studied, and traveled widely in their quest. With unerring judgment, they have acquired masterpieces that not only please the eye, but challenge the mind. Presented here, twenty-six of their paintings brilliantly capture the aesthetic sensibility of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America.
Graphic Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Graphic Masters celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists’ works on paper. Exceptional watercolors, pastels, and drawings from the 1860s through the 1990s reveal the central importance of works on paper for American artists, both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art. Traditionally a more intimate form of expression than painting or sculpture, drawings often reveal greater spontaneity and experimentation. Even as works on paper become larger and more finished, competing in scale with easel paintings, they retain a sense of the artist’s hand, the immediacy of a thought made visible.