Spring rain and black umbrellas in Union Square

Few painters capture the enchantment of New York in the rain like Childe Hassam, an American Impressionist who had studios at Fifth Avenue and 17th Street and 95 Fifth Avenue in the 1880s and 1890s.

“Rainy Late Afternoon, Union Square” captures the southern end of the park looking very much as it does today, with rain showers turning the pathways into seas of black umbrellas set against gray skies and a hint of green lawn.

Hassam painted the city in all seasons, but his images of New York in rain and snow are especially magical.

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27 Responses to “Spring rain and black umbrellas in Union Square”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    Totally brilliant…..and so familiar! Good grief!

  2. Tom B Says:

    I love these old paintings of NYC. Look at all the detail in the background. It also looks three dimensional.

  3. Dymoon Says:

    I echo Tom from above, I love these old paintings, they engage.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Hassam is one of my favorite painters…he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

    • Zoé Says:

      So true Ephemeral! Such a brilliant American impressionist! He was part of the Old Lyme Art Colony in CT. I posted here earlier giving you links to the museums there; should you want to take a day or weekend trip to New London County to see more of his paintings in person. (Train to New Haven then switch to Shoreline East trains). There is always the draw of the beaches – should anyone require more enticement to see the paintings!

      • trilby1895 Says:

        Zoe, once again your comments reflect my own feelings! As a child, my family (and I) visited the beaches on the Sound, including renting cottages at the very conclusion of WW II. I still remember sitting on the sand looking over the water during a foggy morning with my Dad who had very recently been discharged from the Service. I remember Old Lyme but have never been to the museum there.

      • Zoé Says:

        Trilby – The art museums in New London County are the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme & also the Lyman Allen museum in New London. (There are other museums there as well).

      • Zoé Says:

        *That should have been ‘Lyman Allyn’ – not ‘Allen’

  5. trilby1895 Says:

    Once again I am enjoying one of my favorite Hassam paintings so, thank you again, Ephemeral! The text notes that the view of “Rainy Late Afternoon…..” ….captures the “southern end of the park”. If that is correct, then the building at the top of the painting looks very much as the current Barnes and Noble building does today. At least that’s what I thought when I first looked at this painting years ago and still do. Does anyone know if the building is truly today’s B&N? I think that back in the day the building housed a publishing company….Every time I walk through the Park this haunting view enchants me.

  6. Buzz Says:

    Trilby1895, Barnes and Noble occupies the Century Building, former home of the Century Publishing Company (publishers of The Century Magazine and St. Nicholas Magazine). It was built 1880-1881, so it would have been there while Childe Hassam had his studio nearby.

    On the other hand, the commentary above specifies that the view is of the south side of Union Square, not the north . . .

  7. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I thought it was the south, then spent a long time wondering why the spire of Grace Church wasn’t in view…so I think you are both probably right, this is the north end!

  8. Tsarina Says:

    Childe Hassam is one of my favorite artists. His paintings of rain are so wonderful … so few people can truly capture not only the look of rain, but the feeling as well. Rainy Day, Boston is my absolute favorite and the original hangs in the Toledo Museum of Art in my hometown… I love to go and just while away the day there with that painting in particular being a spot to sit a spell and relax. His NYC paintings of rain and snow are absolutely beautiful as well … as are his non inclement weather paintings of NYC! He also created so many beautiful paintings of the Isles of Shoals in Maine/New Hampshire and of Celia Thaxton’s gardens on Appledore Island in the Isles of Shoals. Every time we vacation in that area, I know why he chose the area for his paintings. So beautiful. I wrote down the information about the museum in CT with his paintings that Trilby1895 mentioned above … thank you, Trilby! And thank you, Emphemeralnyewyork, for choosing this lovely painting by this oft overlooked artist.

  9. Tsarina Says:

    Correction … Celia Thaxter, not Thaxton.

  10. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    So glad you’ve lingered on ENY to view this Hassam painting! I wish one of New York’s many wonderful museums would consider doing an exhibit.

  11. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Here is Rainy Day Boston:

    • Zoé Says:

      Mastery w/ light. I’m sure in person it must bounce off the canvas or board. Thanks for that link

      • Tsarina Says:

        It is definitely even better in person. I’ve sat in front of it many, many times and its never lost its hold on me.

      • Zoé Says:

        The experience of viewing visual art in person can’t be replicated – even by the highest quality prints. I find that aspect fascinating. The alchemy between the piece & the light in the room & the viewer. It’s a sort of magic really. And probably why to indigenous peoples a metallurgist/craftsperson/artist/magician were one and the same. (Greek god > Mercury… Phoenician god > Khassis etc.).

        I saw a Van Gogh painting where the Sun/sunlight/rays of the Sun he had painted appeared to be coming *out* of the painting. Like light streaming from the canvas.

        I don’t think it’s as apples & oranges w/ all work either. Some people’s work seems like it only exists in a space between the work & the viewer in real time. Other work translates perfectly to a page for me.

        I am trying to remember which artist said art was all/only about tricking people… lol…

        When I draw I enter a kind of *other* state of mind. (*zone* like athletes describe also). Perhaps that’s what happens. As soon as someone looks at a piece again they hopefully enter that magic place you entered when you made the thing. Lol… like a dormant dried yeast that gets reactivated or something… Like the Eucharist…

      • Tsarina Says:

        Your description in itself is art, Zoé. Lovely…just lovely…..especially the comparison to the Eucharist. Wow.

      • Zoé Says:

        Thanks for the love ❤ Blessings for you this Orthodox Holy Saturday Tsarina. And Happy Pascha on Sunday. Al Masi Qam! (He is Risen! Aramaic paschal greeting). You sound Orthodox w/ that name… lol… hence I thought I'd let that fly… Hope to see you again here…

  12. David H Lippman Says:

    Fabulous painting.

  13. The Gilded Age painter devoted to ‘scenes of every-day life around him’ | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] his best-known works are urban landscapes near Washington Square, Union Square, and Madison Square, and Ephemeral New York has posted many examples over the years. But […]

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