Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Property of an Estate
Childe Hassam (1859-1935)

October Gold

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
October Gold
signed and dated with artist's crescent device 'Childe Hassam 1901' (lower left)--signed with initials 'C.H.' and dated again (on the reverse)--inscribed with title (on a label affixed to the stretcher)
oil on canvas
37 x 24 in. (94 x 61 cm.)
Private collection.
[With]Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1998.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, Special Exhibition of Paintings by Max Bohm, Alexis J. Fournier, Herbjorn Gausta, Agnes Harrison, Childe Hassam, Robert Koehler, G. Sangster Truesdell, Lionel Walden, Cadwallader Washburn, February 25-March 17, 1902, no. 69.

Lot Essay

Childe Hassam first visited Cos Cob, a small waterfront section of Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1894, at the invitation of fellow artist and friend John Henry Twachtman. Artists had flocked to the area beginning in the 1870s and a small artists' colony consisting of painters, writers, editors and musicians had formed, due in large part to the rural, picturesque nature of the place coupled with the proximity to New York City. Twachtman officially settled there in 1889, and had begun teaching painting during the summers by 1891. In addition to Twachtman and Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Theodore Robinson, Henry Fitch Taylor, and Robert Reid also visited, and for longer stays, they boarded at the Holley House (now known as the Bush-Holley House), an old saltbox overlooking Cos Cob's small harbor.

Following the month of August in the Isles of Shoals, Hassam's frequent summer retreat, he visited Cos Cob in September 1901. Likely painted there in the early fall, just when the rich, golden tones are encroaching upon the verdant leaves of the summer months, October Gold is a glorious celebration of the Connecticut landscape. Depicting a rocky hill from a vantage point below on a crisp, sunny day, the painting celebrates the changing of the seasons. Rich, textural surfaces comprised of a myriad of brushstrokes emphasize the materiality of the paint. The palette alternates between soft greens of yet turned grass, to subtle corals of the earliest signs of fall to deep reds and yellows in the trees. Instead of using color to delineate space and define the composition, Hassam has used a variety of broken brushstrokes to create a highly developed, patterned surface. By the turn of the century, Hassam favored subtle tonal variations in harmonious colors over perspective and line. Ulrich Hiesinger notes that his "mosaic like patterning produces not the atmospheric quality of a soft continuous dissolve, but a fracturing of space through the alternation of light and shade." (Childe Hassam, New York, 1994, p. 115) Hassam's treatment of the surface became paramount, creating a decorative, almost tactile surface that simultaneously heralded the flatness of the canvas and bestowed subtle, atmospheric effects.

Hassam's affinity for New England, including places like Cos Cob, stem from his traditional New England upbringing, deep rooted in American culture and patriotism. Jay Cantor writes, "In keeping with the increasing retrospection of his work, his visits to Portsmouth, Gloucester, Newport, Old Lyme, and Cos Cob provided opportunities for him to reclaim his patrimony and assert his Americaness at a time of expanding foreign incursions. Hassam had become seriously interested in his own ancestry and genealogy, and he enjoyed tracing the direct line from his New England forebears back to their Anglo-Saxon roots. After interviewing Hassam for an article about his etchings, Carlo Beuf noted: 'This American painter, powerfully built, with bull neck and torso of an athlete, is generally considered the exponent par excellence of French Impressionism this side of the Atlantic. This, however, does not prevent him from being one of the most representative North Americans, one of the most Anglo-Saxon types, that I have ever met.'" ("Hassam's Twentieth-Century Work," in Childe Hassam, Impressionist, New York, 1999, p. 108)

We would like to thank Kathleen M. Burnside for her help cataloguing this work.

This painting will be included in Stuart P. Feld's and Kathleen M. Burnside's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's works.

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