Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
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Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism
CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)

Le Crépuscule

CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
Le Crépuscule
signed 'Childe Hassam.' and with the artist's crescent device (lower left); signed again, titled and inscribed ' Le Crépuscule Childe Hassam 35 Boul'd de Rochechouart Paris' and with the artist's crescent device (on a label affixed to the stretcher)
oil on canvas
49 ½ x 76 in. (125.7 x 193 cm.)
Painted circa 1888-1893
The artist; (probably) sale, American Art Galleries, New York, 7 February 1896, lot 204.
Catholina Lambert, Paterson, New Jersey; sale, American Art Association, New York, 22 February 1916, lot 184.
Schultheis Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale).
John F. and Edith Braun, Merion, Pennsylvania (by 1930).
Milch Gallery, New York (1951).
Maxwell Galleries, San Francisco (1965).
Campanile Galleries, Chicago.
Hammer Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, 1970).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 1977.
G.W. Sheldon, Recent Ideals of American Art, New York, 1888, pp. 139 and 146-147 (illustrated; titled Twilight in Paris).
"Monthly Record of American Art" in The Magazine of Art, July 1893, vol. 16, no. 8, p. xxvi (titled The Last Light on the City).
"Art Notes—Catholina Lambert Collection on View" in The New York Times, 12 February 1916, p. 11 (titled A Roof Garden).
H.G. Marceau, "American Painting in the Braun Collection" in Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum, May 1930, vol. 25, no. 135, p. 23.
E.A. Jewell, "Braun Collection Put on Exhibition" in The New York Times, 18 December 1940, p. 22.
"Masters in the Art News" in Art News, January 1969, vol. 67, no. 9, p. 13 (illustrated; titled Twilight in Paris).
J.S. Czestochowski, "Childe Hassam: Paintings from 1880 to 1900" in American Art Review, January 1978, pp. 43 and 47 (illustrated).
U.R. Hiesinger, Childe Hassam, exh. cat., Jordan-Volpe Gallery, New York, 1994, pp. 38-39 (illustrated, fig. 31; titled Twilight (Le Crépuscule)).
H.B. Weinberg, Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2004, pp. 308 and 345 (illustrated, p. 308, fig. 313; titled Twilight (Le Crépuscule)); p. 84, note 51 and p. 85, note 71.
H. Clayson, Illuminated Paris: Essays on Art and Lighting in the Belle Époque, Chicago, 2019, pp. 146-147 (illustrated, fig. 5.8) and p. 214, note 59.
Munich, Internationale Kunstausstellung, 1888, p. 51, no. 1162 (titled Dämmerung).
Paris, Palais du Champ de Mars, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Paris Exposition Universelle, May-November 1889, p. 81, no. 149.
New York, Society of American Artists, 15th Annual Exhibition, April-May 1893, no. 141 (titled The Last Light on the City).
New York, American Art Galleries, February 1916.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, American Paintings from the Collection of John F. Braun, May-September 1930.
New York, Douthitt Galleries, The Braun Collection, December 1940-February 1941.
San Francisco, Maxwell Galleries Ltd., American Art Since 1850, August 1968, pp. 8-9, no. 128 (illustrated; titled Mrs. Hassam and her Sister, Mrs. Rook, on the roof terrace, Montmartre, Paris).
New York, Hammer Galleries, Childe Hassam, February 1969, p. 11, no. 24 (illustrated; titled Roof Tops, Paris).
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., 19th and 20th Century American Paintings from the Gallery Collection, February-March 1972, no. 7 (titled Rooftop, Paris).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Cincinnati Art Museum and Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, American Impressionist Painting, July 1973-April 1974, p. 91, no. 31 (illustrated).
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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.

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Lot Essay

Impressive in scale, color and detail, Childe Hassam’s Le Crépuscule belongs to a group of city scenes the artist created on his first trip to Paris in 1886-1889. The image depicts the artist’s wife, Maud Hassam, and likely her sister, Cora H. Cotton, on the roof of the Hassams’ apartment and studio at 35 Boulevard de Rochechouart. Hassam began the painting in 1888, shortly after moving to the depicted locale from their previous apartment on Boulevard de Clichy in November 1887. One of Hassam’s most important and large-scale works from his Parisian sojourn, Le Crépuscule serves as an original fusion of the artist’s interest in both city life and floral subject matter.
Dynamic and multifaceted, Le Crépuscule is simultaneously a double-portrait, floral still life and urban cityscape. Hassam painted his wife and sister-in-law at least one other time at Boulevard de Rochechouart in Mrs. Hassam and her Sister (1889, Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago), in which the two women perform inside at a piano. In the present work, the sitters instead pose as ethereal figures in flowing white gowns, looking out over the rooftop terrace and sharing the pictorial stage with the luscious arrangement of azaleas and hydrangeas in blues, pinks and whites at right.
Hassam’s deliberate placement of the flowers as a major focal point in his composition reflects the artist’s lifelong affinity for garden imagery in his work. During this period, he also painted the flower vendors of Paris and began his first dedicated series of garden imagery in the French countryside at Villiers-le-Bel. Despite his many floral images during this period, Lisa Miller writes that Le Crépuscule is notably the only work for which Hassam provided a horticultural description. He described Le Crépuscule as “a picture of the rough [sic] tops of Paris…The top of the building on this roof top was filled with flowers in pots. Those azaleas—the French do it there beautifully. [Y]ou might call them a dome of flowers growing out of a pot, and it had some of those hydrangia [sic]…and those azaleas—you might call them dome like shrubs all in flower. All of them are in this picture. That was my motif” (Hassam quoted in, exh. cat., op. cit. , 2004, p. 308).
Enclosing his scene within the stately urban rooftop, Hassam anchors the delicate women and flowers amidst the vast Parisian cityscape—a hazy lavender and pale peach vista peppered with smoke from the distant buildings. At the right of the terrace, he depicts the glass ceiling of his studio. Hassam recalled of his Rochechouart studio: “The studio is good in this way, that one side is all glass nearly to the floor, so that I can paint a figure here the same as on the street. That is to say grey day effect” (quoted in ibid., p. 38). Indeed, the building proved to be not only a good studio space for Hassam, but also for French Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who occupied a studio at the same address for approximately a year starting on 15 October 1886. The Hassams later moved within the building to Renoir’s room in late 1889. An admirer of the French artist, Hassam fondly recalled of living in Renoir’s studio: “In this place were all sorts of little experiments…I looked at these experiments in pure color and saw it was what I was trying to do myself…I knew that he was trying for the same thing I was trying for” (quoted in H.B. Weinberg, “Hassam in Paris, 1886-1889” exh. cat., op. cit., 2004, p. 60).
Indeed, beyond its celebration of several of the most important subjects of Hassam’s career, Le Crépuscule is moreover an Impressionist meditation in light and color on the mesmerizing atmosphere only to be found in the French capital. Hollis Clayson writes of the present painting, "In this work, the moment of sundown that coincides with the igniting of the city's streetlights becomes the occasion for a quiet moment of remote contemplation by two rooftop women in white…The city in this case is not conceived as a space of involvement, but rather as an object of rapt attention...The objects of their concentration include the rising full moon as well as the lights in the park below" (op. cit., 2019, p. 146). With its evocation of Parisian light, Le Crépuscule stands among the best of Hassam’s output in Paris during this period, which also includes works such as Notre Dame Cathedral (1888, Detroit Institute of Art); At the Florist (1889, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk); April Showers, Champs-Élysées Paris (1888, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha); Carriage Parade (1888, The Haggin Museum, Stockton, California); Grand Prix day (le Jour de Grand Prix) (1887-1888, New Britain Museum of American Art); Grand Prix Day (1887, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and Cab Station, Rue Bonaparte (1887, Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago).
A testament to the artist’s belief in its importance, Le Crépuscule was prominently exhibited throughout Hassam’s life. Hassam first submitted the painting to the 1888 Internationalen Kunstausstellung in Munich, and shortly thereafter to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris—for which his four entries won him a bronze medal. In 1916, when on view at the American Art Galleries, a critic for the New York Times praised the present work: “In this gallery is also an early picture by Childe Hassam, ‘A Roof Garden,’ painted in Paris in the Montmartre Region, and lovely with the color of azaleas, hydrangeas and other flowering plants” (op. cit., 1916, p. 11). In 1930 when on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, another compared the painting to that of Claude Monet: “The early 'Crepuscule’ of Hassam which is shown at the Museum is a reaction to the Gospel of Monet" (H.G. Marceau, op. cit., 1930, p. 23).
As poetically praised by George W. Sheldon shortly after Hassam completed Le Crépuscule: “The only American who makes a practice of painting life in the cities—in the parks, in the streets, and on the house-tops is Mr. Childe Hassam…Mr. Hassam's pictures tell us interesting stories and at the same time record the most delicate play of light and shade…The 'Twilight in Paris' is a house-top arranged with a bench and pots of flowers and shrubs, as the Parisians are so fond of doing in the spring. The picture was painted on just such an elevation on the heights of Montmartre, in the northern part of the city, under the influence of a delicate and clear twilight softened by the tender haze that hangs over the capital at that hour. The two girls in white gowns, the azalias [sic] and hydrangeas, and the terra-cotta chimney-pots, whose tints vary according to their age, are bathed in the last warm rays of the sun. Mr. Hassam evidently felt, as he has certainly expressed, the poetry of Wordsworth's 'rich and balmy eve' under the conditions of Parisian spring-time" (G.W. Sheldon, op. cit., 1888, pp. 146-147).
A previous owner of the present work, Catholina Lambert, was a textile businessman in Paterson, New Jersey and avid art collector. Lambert’s collection was so prolific that in 1892 he moved to a larger residence, Belle Vista, today known as “Lambert Castle,” to house his ever-growing collection. Notable artists from the Lambert collection included Rembrandt Van Rijn, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Victor Eugene Delacroix, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Del Sarto, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, among others.
Other previous owners of Le Crépuscule, John F. and Edith Braun, were collectors based in Merion, Pennsylvania in the early-to-mid 20th century. Their prominent collection of American paintings notably included Winslow Homer’s Watching the Breakers (The Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, New York) and important works by Mary Cassatt, James McNeil Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Theodore Robinson, George Bellows, and Robert Henri, among others.

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