Posts Tagged ‘Union Square paintings’

A Gilded Age painter’s springtime New York

May 23, 2016

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.

Walking through rainy Union Square in 1912

March 21, 2013

Looking at John’s Sloan’s foreboding “Spring Rain” makes me feel as if I’m right behind this woman as she walks the slick pavement of an almost empty city park.

Johnsloanspringrain

That’s exactly the point. “In his 1912 painting Spring Rain, he placed the viewer on a wet path in Union Square by filling the lower edge of the picture—the front edge of the picture plane—with rain-soaked pavement,” writes Nancy Mowll Mathews in Moving Pictures.

“Then Sloan moved the journey diagonally up through the painting as the path recedes into the space of the park. We too seem to be standing on the walkway watching the back of a young lady as she moves though the park. Through the artist’s hand the viewer experiences what it is like to cross the empty park in the mist of a spring rain.”

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