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Impressionist Artist Childe Hassam

Frederick Childe Hassam was born on October 17th, 1859 in Dorchester, Boston. Although he was very bright, school was not for him and he dropped out before he graduated. He knew art was what he loved and he immediately began taking classes at the Lowell Institute. While he was there he began a career in illustration and watercolors. In order to put himself through school he took an apprenticeship at a wood engravers shop. Part of his early practice was anonymously illustrating for the Institute's paper, they were well received and only after his fame did people realize who had been sending them in.

At 23 he had his first exhibition in Boston, it was a display of his watercolors. Although he enjoyed painting his native city, he was convinced by a close friend to travel to Europe to "step outside the box". He and his friend, Edmund H. Garret, traveled all throughout Europe studying his impressionist forefathers. After establishing his reputation in Boston and studying in Europe, he settled in New York.

Early in his painting career he painted the European countryside, but he was most famous for his depiction of the worlds biggest cities, Paris, New York, and Boston. My favorite was always Boston Common at Twilight, an oil on canvas that my parents had a print of hanging in our livingroom. Although most of his fame came from his cityscape portraits, his most favorite landscapes were of the New England coast.

He also painted in California, and in 1925, made drawings of the colonial churches in Charleston, South Carolina, from which he created etchings. During World War I, he painted a series of flags asserting his strong patriotism, and he did a handful of portraits, which in his later years he recalled as numbering about eight.

From 1903, he began painting in Old Lyme, Connecticut, where his influence turned the focus of Art Colony painters from the sombre palette of Tonalism to the bright colors and quick brush strokes of Impressionism. He also painted many landscapes around East Hampton, New York at the invitation of his friend Gaines Ruger Donoho. In 1919, he and his wife purchased a home there adjacent to Donoho's widow.

Hassam's gallery in New York city was on Fifth Street, it was there that he found the subject of his most famous paintings, the 22 Flag paintings. His inspiration came from a parade that traveled down the avenue for World War 1. He divided his time between that gallery and a home in East Hampton, where he died when he was 75.

Child Hassam enjoyed painting city scenes of great celebrations. He used his impressionist talents to make small crowds look large and one American flag look like five. He commonly painted scenes in New York with many flags hanging off the buildings. These paintings, along with the ones done in Paris, are among the rarest and most sought after. Most end up at major auctions around the world such as Southeby's and Christie's and command premium prices.

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