Art of the Americas


Lady in the Park, 1890
Childe Hassam (United States, 1859–1935)
Oil on canvas
14 1/4 x 18 inches
Gift of Katherine Trees Livezey 1973-3-1

Like Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam began as an illustrator for magazines, including Harpers and Scribners. His early paintings reflect contemporary styles: the realism of Winslow Homer, the tonalism of George Inness, and the romanticism of the Hudson River School. In the spring of 1886, Hassam moved to Paris to study impressionism.

Hassam and other American artists sought to reconcile the realist tradition with impressionistic color and light, which made their work generally quite different from that of their French sources. Hassam's paintings after his stay in Paris are typical of American impressionism in the restraint of their color and brushwork. He was one of the American painters included in the celebrated and, by some accounts, notorious International Exhibition of Modern Art of 1913 (later referred to as the Armory Show).

Lady in the Park, painted after Hassam's return to New York in 1890, shows a woman approaching the viewer on a wide, tree-lined walk along an urban park, the pink of her slim skirt echoing the roses on her hat. In the sun-filled scene, the bright sidewalk and street recede to a hazy background of aqua-blue buildings and carriages. The composition is paced out by the diminishing verticals of streetlamps and the trunks of slender, leafless trees, and balanced by diagonal blue shadows.

Text by Robert B. Smith and Catharine Sprugel, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008

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