CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
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CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
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Property from the Collection of Robert and Virginia Payne
CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)

Flower Girl

CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
Flower Girl
signed with artist's crescent device 'Childe Hassam' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 x 10 5⁄8 in. (45.7 x 26.9 cm.)
Painted circa 1887-89.
Ms. Clara Deutsch, New York.
American Art Galleries, New York, 28 November 1924, lot 27, sold by the above.
F.H. Shaw, acquired from the above.
Private collection, New York.
Sotheby's, New York, 5 December 1985, lot 129, sold by the above.
James Maroney Inc., New York, acquired from the above.
Acquired by the late owners from the above, 1985.
Further details
This painting will be included in Stuart P. Feld’s and Kathleen M. Burnside’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

Paris in the 1880s attracted a host of American artists seeking to immerse themselves in the ways of Impressionism, and Childe Hassam was part of this migration. In 1886, the artist and his wife settled in the French capital where they would remain for the next three years. During this period, Hassam executed a number of paintings featuring female flower vendors, including Flower Girl, which combine his strong inspiration from the city environs with his lifelong interest in floral motifs. With broken yet controlled brushstrokes, an assuredly modern composition and sophisticated command of color, Flower Girl represents one of Hassam’s earliest, important forays into Impressionism and embodies his conscious decision to break away from an academic style of painting while in Paris.

Flower Girl dates from one of the most critical years in Hassam’s stylistic development. While working in Boston prior to his time abroad, Hassam had painted in a Tonalist style with a darker palette and more exacting brushstrokes. He moved to Paris in 1886 with the expressed intent of “refining his talent in the larger crucible of contemporary art” (D.F. Hoopes, Childe Hassam, New York, 1982, p. 13) and began his studies at the Académie Julian. However, his experience at the school was not entirely to his liking, as he rejected the emphasis on routine and conformity over innovation. By the time he painted the present work circa 1888-1889, he stopped attending the Academy altogether in order to cultivate the tenets of Impressionism on his own. Utilizing the city environs of Paris, Flower Girl reflects Hassam’s innovative borrowing of Impressionist techniques combined with his unique sense of urban realism. This melding of styles would come to define the power and creativity of Hassam’s art.

Hassam’s flower vendor paintings represent the artist’s keen interest in his urban surroundings and floral imagery while in Paris. Indeed, floral subjects were a cornerstone of Hassam’s output in France both in the city and in Villiers-Le-Bel, where he painted lively depictions of the garden of German businessman Ernest Blumenthal. Ulrich Hiesinger explains the connection to Hassam’s flower vendor works: “Hassam’s interest in the gardens at Villiers-le-Bel carried over into his work in the Paris streets, where he found the flower vendors with their gorgeous baskets of merchandise a compelling opportunity to explore color. Hassam not only included figures of flower vendors in his more general street scenes, but developed the subject into a distinct category of its own…The viewpoints, with passerby cut off by the frame, suggest a random encounter, yet, despite the accidental quality, the restraint and deliberation of the composition imposes its own sense of abiding significance.” (Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, New York, 1994, p. 52)

Painted with dazzling colors, Flower Girl ranks among the artist’s most accomplished canvases. Joseph S. Czestochowski explains, "In about 1886, Hassam entered an approximately ten year period that must be considered his most productive and original one. Quite suddenly, the impact of his training and the results of his Paris experience reached maturity. By the strength of his work Hassam proved that divergent styles could coexist. The year 1888 was seminal to Hassam's reputation...Thematically, the works from this year are consistent, as they are mainly color designs from nature. Despite the continued use of flowers as a decorative motif, each picture possesses its own vibrant directness and originality." ("Childe Hassam: Paintings from 1880 to 1900" in American Art Review, January 1978, p. 46) Indeed, combining his past interest in urban scenes with a new and unique painting technique, Flower Girl represents a pivotal development in Hassam’s own personal style of Impressionism.

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