Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Childe Hassam (1859-1935)

Marché St. Pierre, Montmartre

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Marché St. Pierre, Montmartre
signed and dated 'Childe Hassam 1888' with artist's crescent device (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 x 12½ in. (45.7 x 31.8 cm.)
The artist.
Macbeth Gallery, New York, acquired from the above, 1929.
Mrs. George A. Ball, Muncie, Indiana, acquired from the above, 1929.
Macbeth Gallery, New York, acquired from the above, 1938.
Mr. Bartlett Arkell, New York, acquired from the above, 1938.
Mrs. Barlett Arkell, New York, by bequest from the above, 1946.
Mrs. Elizabeth Campbell Wilson, Vermont, daughter of the above, by bequest from the above, 1970.
Estate of the above.
Spanierman Gallery LLC, New York, and R.H. Love Galleries, Chicago, 1999.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
E.L. Gray, "Painting and Sculpture Share Honors; Early Work by Hassam: This Artist Himself from the First--Sculpture Groups--Allied Artists' Show," New York Times, April 14, 1929.
New York, Macbeth Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings by Childe Hassam, N.A., Covering the Period from 1888 to 1919, Together with Etchings, Water Colors and Pastels, April 1929, no. 18.

Lot Essay

In 1886, following several years of success in Boston as a painter and watercolorist, Childe Hassam set sail for Paris with his wife, Maud. Their first apartment was on the Boulevard Clichy, an area increasingly known for its vibrant nightlife, frequented by the many artists who, like Hassam, took studios in the area. Just off the boulevard, however, a different side of Montmartre revealed itself in the winding, cobbled streets nestled in a hilly enclave beneath the Sacré-Coeur. These narrow passages were populated with local inhabitants and the many small vendors of flowers and fruit that would capture Hassam's imagination and result in some of his best Parisian subjects. Marché St. Pierre, Montmartre is a lively depiction of a street scene in this bustling neighborhood of Paris.

Whether inspired by the bold hues that dotted the streets of Montmartre or his exposure to the works of Impressionists, Hassam's style definitively changed during his three year stay in Paris. What began as a trip to study at the Acadèmie Julian, a destination for many American artists to learn the rigorous principles of draftsmanship and anatomy study, turned into a rebellion against the more formal teachings of the Acadèmie. Increasingly, Hassam found himself attracted to the most radical elements in the French artistic community. Barbara Weinberg writes, "Hassam's Parisian works suggest that he was much more inclined than were most of his compatriots to interpret in a personal and vital way the styles of the modern French painters--the artists of the juste-milieu, Impressionists, and Neoimpressionists--and to celebrate urban life. He often brightened his palette, loosened his brushwork, and showed the effects of brilliant sunlight in oils and watercolors that record the spectacle of Paris." (Childe Hassam, American Impressionist, New York, 2004, p. 60) Hassam was particularly drawn towards the cityscapes of artists such as Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte and Edouard Manet and to the vibrant city life their paintings recorded. By the spring of 1888, Hassam abandoned the Acadèmie Julian altogether, stating, "The Julian Academy is the personification of routine. It is nonsense." (U. Hiesinger, Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, New York, p. 32)

Elizabeth Luther Gray wrote of Marché St. Pierre, Montmartre in the New York Times in 1929, "Here is a canvas dated 1888, the artist was in his twenties still, just climbing out of them, so there is not question of an infant prodigy, but the picture is definitively an early one. The subject is 'Marché St. Pierre,' the region is Montmartre. The donkey carts and market-women, the paris-green vegetables, the patches of red, yellow, green, clear against a general tone of gray, the singing blue in the sky, make up a French scene familiar in detail. The material is substantial but not loaded, here and there the pigment is scraped. No polish of surface, no air-tight glazing, no conventional color scheme. A young and confident Hassam, his mind already busy with three essentials--air to breathe, purity of color, desirability of workmanship...A connoisseur could not fail to discern beneath the skillful technique the tendencies that set the painter on his own road of personal discovery." ("Painting and Sculpture Share Honors; Early Work by Hassam: This Artist Himself from the First--Sculpture Groups--Allied Artists' Show," New York Times, April 14, 1929.)

The refined and controlled tonalist works Hassam had painted in Boston gave way to energetic brushwork and invigorating canvases painted in Paris with a vitality absent from his earlier compositions. Marché St. Pierre, Montmartre, with its vivid palette and spirited handling of the medium, embodies the new liberty of expression that defined Hassam's work from the period and is evidence of the sheer delight he took in his surroundings.

We would like to thank the Hassam catalogue raisonné committee for their assistance with cataloguing this work.

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

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