A Gilded Age painter’s springtime New York

I used to think that Frederick Childe Hassam’s most evocative paintings were his moody, poetic winter scenes of turn of the century New York.

HassamLowerFifthAvenue1890

But his Impressionist renderings of Manhattan in springtime—lush parks, rainy blue twilight, and exaggerated pastel skies—are just as striking.

Hassamfifthavenuenocturne1895

“Lower Fifth Avenue,” at top, depicts the lights and shadows of what appears to be an early spring day in 1890, warm enough to do without overcoats and for leaves to appear on fledgling trees.

Hassamunionsquarespring1896

“New York is the most beautiful city in the world,” Hassam reportedly said, citing Fifth Avenue as the city’s loveliest street. “Fifth Avenue Nocturne,” from 1895, gives us sidewalks slicked with rain and illuminated by electric lights.

Union Square is an oasis of lush greenery amid the backdrop of a gray city in 1896’s “Union Square in Spring.”

Hassamwashingtonsquarearch1890

The stretch of Fifth Avenue from Madison Square to Washington Square was Hassam’s milieu; no surprise, as he had studios at Fifth and 17th and 95 Fifth Avenue in the 1880s and 1890s.

“Washington Arch, Spring,” from 1890, shows what Hassam called “humanity in motion,” which he considered his primary subject and theme.

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9 Responses to “A Gilded Age painter’s springtime New York”

  1. trilby1895 Says:

    Childe Hassam is my favorite American Impressionist; his paintings literally take my breath away, especially “Late Afternoon, Winter, New York, 1900” (Brooklyn Museum of Art). I’ve tried and tried to place the scene; was it Union Square? Does anyone know?

    • MaryDowns Says:

      trilby1895 – The Brooklyn Museum’s page for this work suggests the location is Central Park South. I would not have guessed it, but it does fit the scene.

      • trilby1895 Says:

        Thank you SO Much for that location! I’d never imagine it was Central Park South, either; are they sure? To me it seems more Union Square or Madison Square. Whichever….I want to be included in that painting….Too late by over a century.

  2. bbethany7 Says:

    Wonderful. Thanks. BB

    On Mon, May 23, 2016 at 9:56 AM, Ephemeral New York wrote:

    > ephemeralnewyork posted: “I used to think that Frederick Childe Hassam’s > most evocative paintings were his moody, poetic winter scenes of turn of > the century New York. But his Impressionist renderings of Manhattan in > springtime—lush parks, rainy blue twilight, and exaggerated p” >

  3. georgebeach Says:

    Love his paintings myself. Saw one in an estate sale in Canoga Park, CA, back in 1988. My fiance then (wife now) was also struck by its beauty, but the price was way out of our range. Good to see one up close and personal.
    Thanks for this.

  4. A Gilded Age painter’s springtime New York | Ephemeral New York | First Night Design Says:

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  5. Kate McClelland Says:

    Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

  6. findingnyc Says:

    I’ve always loved Hassam’s paintings of New York!

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