Houses of Parliament, Early Evening was painted during Hassam's third trip to Europe in 1897-1898. Already a well established painter, Hassam had achieved a great measure of professional success--an acclaimed one-man show at St. Boloph Club in Boston and, in February, a public sale of two hundred and five of his oils, watercolors and pastels at the American Art Galleries in New York. In December of 1886 Hassam departed for Europe, landing in Naples. This European tour took him to Naples, Capri, Rome and Florence in Italy, then on to Paris and Villiers-le-Bel in France, to various places in England, and finally to Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu, two artists' colonies in Brittany.
Houses of Parliament, Early Evening is a quintessential example of Hassam's translation of the urban landscape into a poetic arrangement of color and light. He was keenly interested in depicting urban scenes under varying circumstances of light, weather and atmosphere. In this work, the artist exploits his skill in rendering the effects of the fading evening light on water's surface to convey the specific mood of evening. Hassam's predominant use of blues, grays and pale purples in the atmosphere recalls his earlier Tonalist works from the mid-1880's. In Houses of Parliament, Early Evening he punctuates the cool evening tones with hints of reds and yellows, enlivening the surface and hinting at the teeming life that inhabits the urban landscape beneath the veil of evening light.
Color, light and atmosphere are Hassam's main concerns as he captures the changing mood of the city in Houses of Parliament, Early Evening. Here, the artist successfully combines his past interest in urban, Tonalist painting with his new passion for Impressionism. The city of London, bathed in early evening light, glistens with life.
Houses of Parliament, Early Evening relates closely to Hassam's Westminster Palace, From Lambeth. The latter is illustrated in Three Cities, a volume of the artist's works published by R.H. Russell in New York in 1899.
This work will be included in Stuart P. Feld's and Kathleen M. Burnside's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.