East Gloucester, End of the Trolley Line signed, dated and inscribed 'Childe Hassam 1895 / East Gloucester' (lower left) and inscribed with the artist's device and dated again (on the reverse prior to lining) oil on canvas 26 1/4 x 21 1/4in
PROVENANCE: The artist with Milch Galleries, New York Mrs. Thomas Ewing Mr. William F.C. Ewing, New York, by 1946 with Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1964 Misses Adeline and Caroline Wing, Bangor, Maine, acquired from the above, 1964 By descent to the present owner from the above
EXHIBITED: Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Seventeenth Annual Exhibition of American Art, May 21-July 20, 1910, no. 9 (as East Gloucester End of the Trolley). Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Museum of Art, Special Exhibition of Paintings by Childe Hassam, April 1911, no. 20. Newark, New Jersey, Newark Art Association, Paintings by Childe Hassam, November 8-30, 1911, no. 19. Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Exhibition of Oil Paintings, Watercolors, Pastels and Drawings by Childe Hassam, December 28, 1911January 15, 1912, no. 20. St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Art Museum, A Collection of Paintings and Drawings by Mr. Childe Hassam, April 7, 1912-?, no. 16. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, Exhibition of Paintings by Childe Hassam, October 12-27, 1912, no. 8. New York, Milch Galleries, Thirty-Eight Years on 57th Street, Special Exhibition of American Paintings, October 6-25, 1947.
This painting will be included in Stuart P. Feld's and Kathleen M. Burnside's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's works.
Frederick Childe Hassam, born in 1859 to a Puritan family in Dorchester, Massachusetts, is arguably one of the most successful and well-known of the American Impressionists. His extensive oeuvre, which ranges from oil paintings and watercolors to lithographs construct a timeline of the artist's extensive travels and interests, including scenes of Europe, New York, Boston, and the vast coastline of New England. Within these locations, Hassam focused on both rural and urban subjects and even on occasion, a combination of the two, resulting in the theme of the present work, East Gloucester, End of the Trolley Line.
Growing up in Boston, Hassam worked at a publishing house where he would develop an interest in wood engraving which initiated his career as an artist. Throughout the 1880s, Hassam worked as a freelance illustrator, able to support himself with the regular income it provided, while pursuing opportunities to seek a more formal artistic education. He attended classes at the Lowell School of Practical Design and later the Boston Art Club. In 1883, Hassam made his first trip to Europe, followed in 1886, by a lengthier sojourn to Paris. It was during this three year stay that he studied at the Académie Julian and was heavily influenced by the French Impressionists. His exposure to the works of Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro forever affected his painterly style essentially evolving towards looser brush strokes and a lighter palette. Upon returning stateside in 1889, Hassam regularly visited coastal New England including Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals, Greenwich, Connecticut, and Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Painted in 1895, East Gloucester, End of the Trolley Line exemplifies Hassam's mature Impressionist style. The Gloucester community, rural in nature, is not far from the comparatively booming town of Boston and does possess an urban spirit and industry. In East Gloucester, End of the Trolley Line, Hassam depicts exactly this juxtaposition. To capture this view, Hassam positioned his easel facing down Main Street in East Gloucester close to its intersection with Rocky Neck Avenue. The foreground of the scene is open, leaving the viewer to appreciate the vast range of tones the artist has incorporated into the partially shadowed street. Compositionally, the background of the scene is bustling with activity. Houses line the street and figures are scattered into the distance. With the significant addition of the Trolley line, Hassam offsets the primitive style of the buildings and the rustic landscaping, making the present work one of true modernity.
Hassam's practice of quick brush strokes to create a light, impressionistic touch is complemented here with his use of a palette knife -- generating flat blue hues in the sky surrounding puffy cloud forms. The palette of this work is very bright, granting a sunny day for this small town.
Although the towns of Gloucester, Massachusetts and the surrounding areas have long been a source of inspiration for both aspiring and established artists, none have quite captured the essence of this small, rural town on the brink of the modern age quite like Childe Hassam. His local perspective and global experience have made him uniquely able to render East Gloucester, End of the Trolley Line with a delicate and subtle elegance.
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