Childe Hassam

The Golf Links

Oil on canvas laid down on board: 10(h) x 12.5(w) in /

25.4(h) x 31.8(w) cm

Signed, inscribed and dated 1926

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BT 243

 

CHILDE HASSAM

Dorchester, MA 1859-1935 East Hampton, NY

 

On the links

 

Signed, dated and inscribed lower right:

Childe Hassam Easthampton Oct 7th 1926;

signed with the artist’s monogram and dated on the reverse

Oil on canvas laid down on board:

10 x 12 ½ in / 25.4 x 31.8 cm

Frame size: 16 ¾ x 19 ¾ in / 42.5 x 50.2 cm

 

Provenance:

Senator William Benton, Southport, Connecticut, then by descent;

Christie’s New York, 25th May 2000, lot 3

Private collection, UK

 

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

 

 

Boston-born, but based in New York for much of his long, successful career, Childe Hassam was a pioneer of American Impressionism. He studied in Paris from 1886 to 1889 and adopted the high colour key and direct observation of nature prescribed by that movement, but in a fresh, New World way. In the 1880s and 90s Hassam painted the bustling cities of Boston and New York, their balance of energy and elegance mirroring the world described by Edith Wharton. He declared: ‘the man who will go down to posterity is the man who paints his own time and the scenes of every-day life around him’[1].

 

As well as cities, Hassam was also a lifelong, deeply sensitive painter of the American countryside. In the 1890s he became a frequent summer visitor to Appledore Island, the largest of the Isles of Shoals off New Hampshire, where his friend, the poet Celia Thaxter, hosted an informal salon for artists and writers.

 

In 1919 Hassam and his wife Kathleen acquired a colonial-era cottage in East Hampton, on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Like many of the locations painted by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, it had developed from being a quiet fishing village to being discovered by artists, before the advent of the railway in 1880 brought the wealthy and fashionable to build summer ‘cottages’. East Hampton retains its exclusivity to this day.

 

Childe Hassam was a typically vigorous, sporting New Englander who had excelled in boxing and swimming at school. Barbara Weinberg comments that he ‘enjoyed East Hampton’s social and recreational activities, especially the genteel Maidstone Club, founded in 1891, where he swam every day and on whose course at the end of Egypt Lane he played golf. “I belong to the Golf Club, swim and paint when I feel like it.” As an obituary notice stated, “He lived with gusto, smoked a pipe, played golf, kept a good cellar, buffeted the East Hampton surf with a great bronzed body, and worked joyously until his last illness.’”[2]

 

In the 1920s Hassam made a number of views of the golf links behind the dunes that edge East Hampton’s foreshore. On the links, painted on 7th October 1926, conjures up an Indian-summer day, with golfers enjoying the radiant light and sea air that makes playing on a seaside course so satisfying. The shadow from a band of clouds scuds across the superbly-maintained greens, while more clouds boil up over the Arts-and-Crafts style clubhouse and adjacent buildings. Hassam paints with boldness, touching in the figures with economy and manipulating streaks and dabs of green, yellow-green and white to suggest a deep panorama filled with the tang of the ocean. He handles the brush with a confidence borne of more than three decades of experience and delight in recording the world around him. This broad manner and the radiance which pours into the scene has parallels with the painting of Bonnard.

 

Similar in handling is the oil on board East course, Maidstone Club[3], painted on 10th October 1926, a few days after the present work. Earlier golfing paintings include The Dome Green (Maidstone), 1923 and Dune hazard no.2, 1922, both in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.

 

 

 

 

CHILDE HASSAM

Dorchester, MA 1859-1935 East Hampton, NY

 

Childe Hassam was a leading American Impressionist, who reinvigorated the movement begun in France with a New World energy. He was born in 1859 in Dorchester, now a suburb of Boston, scion of a family that could trace its roots back to the original Massachusetts Bay Colony. Hassam’s mother was related to the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hassam trained with a wood engraver and in 1882 became a freelance illustrator for magazines. The following year he travelled in Europe, studying the Old Masters and painting watercolours. He married Kathleen Maude in 1884 and from 1886 to 1889 the couple lived in Paris. Hassam adopted a lighter palette and freer brushwork after seeing works by the Impressionists, although he did not meet the artists and always claimed to have forged his own path independently.

 

In 1889 Hassam settled in New York, where he remained for the rest of his life. He became well known for views of Boston and New York which capture characteristic American skylines and the bustle and elegance of these confident, burgeoning cities. Hassam uses rapid, atmospheric brushwork in paintings such as Late afternoon, New York, winter, c.1900 (Brooklyn Museum). He also painted radiant views of the New England countryside, especially in the Isles of Shoals off New Hampshire and Maine, where his friend the poet Celia Thaxter maintained a literary and artistic salon on Appledore Island. Celia Thaxter’s garden, 1890 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) dazzles in the radiance of coastal light.

 

Hassam was a friend of fellow American Impressionists J Alden Weir, John Henry Twachtman and Monet’s disciple Theodore Robinson, through whom they kept in touch with the great man. In 1897 the American Impressionists seceded from the Society of American Artists, forming a group known as The Ten. Although critics had originally called Hassam’s work ‘incomprehensible’, by the end of the first decade of the twentieth century he was hugely successful, commanding as much as $6,000 for an oil. In 1916 Hassam began his famous series of ‘Flag paintings’ depicting the Stars and Stripes, inspired by a ‘Preparedness Parade’ urging American entry into the First World War, when the feeling in the country was largely isolationist. As a Francophile of English descent, Hassam felt America should support the Allies. One of the most famous of the series, The Avenue in the rain, 1917, hangs in the White House; the motif of the flag has inspired many later artists, including Jasper Johns.

 

In 1919 Hassam acquired a house in East Hampton, Long Island, where he summered. He evoked the unspoiled New England countryside and the restrained beauty of its colonial-era buildings as an increasingly powerful and industrialized America hankered after a vision of simpler, purer times. A prolific artist, Hassam created more than 2,000 oils, watercolours, pastels and illustrations, as well as – after 1912 – more than 400 prints. He died in East Hampton in 1935.

 

The work of Childe Hassam is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Dallas Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

[1] Quoted in H Barbara Weinberg, ‘Childe Hassam (1859–1935)’, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hass/hd_hass.htm (October 2004).

 

[2] H Barbara Weinberg, Childe Hassam, An American Impressionist, exh. cat., New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

[3] 8 x 10 ¾ / 20.3 x 27.3 cm. Sotheby’s New York, 19th May 2011, lot 25.

ImpressionistChilde Hassam