1859-1935 | AmericanNew York Winter Window
Signed and dated “Childe Hassam 1919” (lower left)
Oil on canvas
Childe Hassam stands among the greatest names in the history of American art, and this monumental oil on canvas can be counted among his greatest accomplishments as a painter. The work hails from his celebrated “window series” — intimate scenes marked by the presence of a contemplative woman in a well-appointed interior, positioned before the silhouette of a window. A sense of serene beauty and graceful movement is felt in the work, while its light-filled, jewel-like palette recalls the canvases of the French Impressionists such as Monet. It is not merely a masterpiece of American Impressionism, but also of modern art as a whole.
The artist launched his window series around 1910, although he completed the occasional work in this vein earlier. These works reflected an interest in intimism, a style of painting practiced by many of the French and American Impressionists. The genre is dedicated to intimate views of domestic interiors that feature artfully posed female subjects in natural light. Hassam used this trope, combined with his love of New York City, as a means to juxtapose these private scenes with views of the modern city seen through the window, exploring an array of contrasts. Hassam expert Susan Larkin wrote of the window series that “the sheer curtains and tightly closed windows completely separate the woman from the city outside. Absorbed in reverie, she turns inward mentally as well as physically...This emphatically divided space suggests additional oppositions: between private and public, feminine and masculine, tradition and modernity.”
The present painting is undoubtedly the high point of the series. The scene is set in the dining room of Hassam's studio and residence at 130 West 57th Street, situated in the heart of Manhattan. The woman standing in profile is his beloved wife and favorite model, Maude, who appeared in some of his most important works. The composition displays several elements commonly seen in the window series — Maude, placed against a large window draped with sheer curtains, potted bulbs and a bowl of fruit. Through the window, the viewer can catch a glimpse of the snowy streets of New York, a city the artist paid tribute to time and time again on canvas. New York Winter Window
remained in Hassam’s personal collection for the entirety of his life. It is testimony to his particular attachment to this work and its central figure.
Hassam delighted in exploring the nuances of light on various textures and colors, demonstrated here with the brilliant winter sun filtering through the diaphanous curtains. Bright reflections appear on the dining table while punches of indigo create shadow and contrast. Maude wears a stylish dress, flecked with threads of gold, green, blue and orange, rendered in short, dynamic brushstrokes and a rich impasto that animate the surface of the canvas. The highly saturated red and yellow pigments Hassam applies to the room’s decor contrast dynamically with the cool tones of white, gray, blue and lavender that he employs outside to emphasize the chilled weather and steely lighting conditions of winter. The artist suggests a snowy day through the vertical, energized brushstrokes that cover the city’s rooftops.
Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Hassam began his artistic career as a freelance illustrator, working for national publications such as Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s Monthly, and The Century. His first solo exhibition of watercolors took place in Boston in 1883, and he quickly catapulted onto the international scene, winning a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. The year before the present work was created, he received the Webb Prize from the Society of American Artists for another landscape painted at Gloucester. Hassam would receive numerous other awards throughout his career, most notably the Gold Medal for Distinguished Services to Fine Art from the American Dealers Association. A true master, Hassam depicted a way of life characteristic of both American and French society, and his work elucidates a critical chapter in American art history.New York Winter Window
was a personal favorite of the artist’s — he kept it in his collection for his entire life — and his estate bequeathed it to the American Academy of Arts and Letters after the artist’s death. Throughout its history, it has been widely exhibited, showing at the Carnegie Institute, American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Academy of Design, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum and the Guild Hall Museum. Hassam’s window series was critically successful, and numerous museums acquired these pictures soon after they were first shown. Other paintings from the series reside in prestigious museums across the country. Most notably, the Smithsonian Institution owns three
, however, none match the level of detail and beauty of the present work. This painting is certainly among the most important Hassams to enter the market in many years.
Canvas: 48 1/8“ high x 58 1/8” wide
Frame: 56 1/8“ high x 66 1/8” wide
The artist, to his estate, 1935.
American Academy of Arts & Letters, New York, 1936.
David David Gallery, circa 1966.
Collection of Ira Koger, Jacksonville, FL.
David David Gallery, circa 1990.
Private Collection, circa 1990, until the present.
Exhibitions:Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 19th Annual International Exhibition Of Paintings, 1920, 142.
House of Durand-Ruel, New York, “Exhibition Of Paintings by Childe Hassam," 1926, no. 1.
American Academy Of Arts & Letters, New York, "Exhibition Of The Works Of Childe Hassam," 1927,catalog no. 14, illus.
National Academy of Design, New York, "Special Exhibition," 1939.
University Of Arizona Museum Of Art, Tucson, 1972, "Childe Hassam 1859-1935," no. 110, illus., page 41.
Santa Barbara Museum, Santa Barbara.
Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York, March 21-May 10, 1981, "Childe Hassam 1859-1935," catalog no. 22, illus.
Eliot Clark, "Childe Hassam," Art In America, volume VIII, number IV, June 1920, pp.172-180, illustratedfull page, plate 77.
Nathaniel Pousette-Dart, Childe Hassam, New York, 1922, illustrated full page.
Adeline Adams, Childe Hassam, New York, 1938, page 70, illustrated full page, frontispiece.
Warren Adelson, William Gerdts, and others, “Childe Hassam, Impressionist,” Abbeville Press, NY, 1999, illustrated p. 168.