By the late nineteenth century, Celia Thaxter had cultivated an informal group of literary and artistic friends, including Childe Hassam, who spent part of each summer in communion on the island of Appledore. It was here that Childe Hassam, America's foremost Impressionist, painted some of his finest pictures. "Appledore was a place where the imagination could flourish. Inspired by impressions of the parlor's cultured atmosphere, the garden's brilliant color, and the landscape's wild beauty, Hassam executed some of his most successful works at the Isles of Shoals, where he conducted periodic summer painting campaigns from the mid-1880s until about 1916. The finest Shoals images, created between 1890 and 1912, coincide with the full flowering of Hassam's powers as a painter." (D.P. Curry, An Island Garden Revisited, New York, 1990, p. 14)
The artistic and sophisticated, yet comfortable setting on Appledore, "allowed Hassam to explore the full range of his palette. In an otherwise intractable environment, Hassam was liberated by a gorgeous saturation of color and light. He produced scintillating canvases and watercolors that resonate with visual energy. It is likely that the heady intellectual atmosphere Hassam encountered here, in the salon maintained by the island's proprietress, Celia Thaxter, contributed to the ebullience of his work at Appledore. Hassam was, by all evidence, alive to nature and charged by its dynamic beauty. The island's bracing climate coupled with his enthusiasm for an active life and the special pleasures of ocean bathing made his visits there invigorating" (W. Adelson, Childe Hassam, Impressionist, New York, 1999, p. 82)
Indeed, Hassam's Isles of Shoals pictures hold a place of their own within Hassam's oeuvre. "Fresh and invigorating, the Isles of Shoals pictures stand out vividly against Hassam's huge body of work as a whole. Memories of long-gone summers reach across the years, for his best pieces are still charged with the artist's sense of adventure as he took chances with composition, let go with color. Seeking his own voice, the young Hassam was as yet open to new ideas, and his paintings offer a concentrated sampling in which the oft-made generalizations about the sources, aims, and methods of late nineteenth-century American art can be better understood." (An Island Garden Revisited, p. 14)
This work will be included in Stuart P. Feld's and Kathleen M. Burnside's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.