Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hodgepodge 315/365 - Childe Hassam and Isles of Shoals

Last year I took myself to Massachusetts to visit friends (Ruthanne and Dave, in Weymouth, south of Boston; and Kathi and Bob, in Bourne, just as you enter Cape Cod) and spend a week on my own in Provincetown—at the very tippy tip of Cape Cod—writing, reading, and simply enjoying the ambiance of that special place. One thing Ruthanne and I did was go to Salem to visit the Peabody Essex Museum, a world-class art museum that includes Yin Yu Tang, a Chinese merchants' house from the late Qing dynasty. That was fascinating and beautiful (and somewhere, I have photos!). I also especially enjoyed an exhibit of paintings of the Isles of Shoals, a group of small islands some six miles offshore, straddling the border of Maine and New Hampshire.

In particular, I enjoyed the works by Frederick Childe Hassam (1859–1935), an American Impressionist painter known particularly for his coastal and urban scenes. He made over 3,000 paintings—oils and watercolors—and prints—etchings and lithographs—over the course of his career. Here's Wikipedia on his visits to the Isles of Shoals: "During the summers [in the 1890s and early 1900s], he would work in a . . . typical Impressionist location, such as Appledore Island,
. . . then famous for its artist colony. Social life on the island revolved around the salon of poet Celia Thaxter, who hosted artists and literary figures. The group was a 'jolly, refined, interesting and artistic set of people . . . like one large family.' There, Hassam recalled, 'I spent some of my pleasantest summers . . . [and] met the best people in the country.' Hassam's subjects for his paintings included Thaxter's flower garden, the rocky landscape, and some interior scenes. . . . In Impressionist fashion, he applied his colors 'perfectly clear out of the tube' to unprimed canvas without pre-mixing. Artists displayed their work in Thaxter's salon and were exposed to wealthy buyers staying on the island. Thaxter died in 1894, and in tribute Hassam painted her parlor in The Room of Flowers."

Oh, it must have been splendid to spend an entire summer wandering the island, setting up an easel and painting away, then capping off the day with a convivial evening among creative spirits!

Here are a few paintings by Childe Hassam from those pleasant summer days, including ones of Celia and her "Room of Flowers."

Hollyhocks — Appledore
The Cove
Celia Thaxter in Her Garden
The Room of Flowers

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