Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Childe Hassam (1859-1935)

The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor
signed 'Childe Hassam' with artist's crescent device (lower right)
oil on canvas
34 1/8 x 36 ¼ in. (86.7 x 92 cm.)
Painted in 1899.
The artist.
San Francisco Society of Artists, San Francisco, California, acquired from the above, 1915.
San Francisco Art Association (later San Francisco Art Institute), San Francisco, California, gift from the above, 1960.
Sotheby’s, Los Angeles, California, 18 June 1979, lot 131, sold by the above.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York, acquired from the above.
Dr. and Mrs. H. Robert Ripley, Castro, California, 1980.
[With]John E. Parkerson & Co., Houston, Texas.
Mr. and Mrs. Prentis B. Tomlinson, Jr., Houston, Texas, 1981, acquired from the above.
David Findlay, Jr., Inc., New York, 1986.
Al Cohen, Denver, Colorado.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Private collection, Connecticut, acquired from the above.
Sotheby’s, New York, 1 December 1994, lot 53, sold by the above.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
The Century Magazine, circa 1916, p. 780, illustrated.
R.L. Bernier, Art in California, San Francisco, California, 1916, pl. 129, illustrated.
San Francisco Museum of Art Quarterly Bulletin, vol. III, 1944, no. 2, cover illustration.
D.F. Hoopes, Childe Hassam, New York, 1982, p. 52.
J.A. Ganz, ed., Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, 2015, p. 32.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 109th Annual Exhibition, February 8-March 29, 1914, p. 36, no. 324 (as The Yachts).
Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Twenty-First Annual Exhibition of American Art, May 23-July 31, 1914, p. 11, no. 53, illustrated (as The Yachts).
San Francisco, California, Exposition Park, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, February 20-December 4, 1915, pp. 70, 145, no. 3730, illustrated.
San Francisco, California, Exposition Park, Post-Exposition Exhibition, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, January 1-May 6, 1916, p. 54, no. 5523, illustrated.
Toronto, Canada, Art Gallery of Toronto; Winnipeg, Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery Association; Vancouver, Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Painting, 1865-1905, January 6-June 18, 1961, no. 33.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gerald Peters Gallery, American Masters: A Selection of Works from the Gerald Peters Gallery, 1990, pl. 18, illustrated.
San Francisco, California, M.H. De Young Museum, 1967-1979, on loan.


We would like to thank the Hassam catalogue raisonné committee for their assistance with cataloguing this work.

This painting will be included in Stuart P. Feld's and Kathleen M. Burnside's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

Childe Hassam’s paintings from his summers along the New England coast are renowned for their vivacious depictions of quaint resort communities, their visitors, the sparkling sea and the flourishing flora. Incorporating all of these elements into one panoramic work, The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor superbly captures one of the most inspiring views of the region in the effervescent Impressionist style that earned Hassam the nickname of the 'American Monet.'

With beautiful coastal vistas and a burgeoning maritime industry, Gloucester, Massachusetts, has long proved an inspirational summer destination for generations of American artists. As Susan G. Larkin recounts, “Gloucester combines colonial architecture, a picturesque setting, and a bustling harbor. America’s largest fishing port during Hassam’s time, it also supported granite quarrying, ironworking, shipbuilding, fish-drying, and fish-packing industries. Tourism developed there rapidly, beginning about 1835. Among the town’s summer visitors were many artists. Fitz Hugh Lane, a native son, and Martin Johnson Heade painted there in the mid-nineteenth century. [Winslow] Homer and [William Morris] Hunt followed them after the Civil War, and [John Henry] Twachtman, Charles H. Davis, Joseph R. DeCamp, Frank Duveneck, Willard L. Metcalf, and Edward Henry Potthast joined the flood of artists working in Gloucester at the turn of the last century.” (“Hassam in New England, 1889-1918,” in H. Barbara Weinberg, Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, New York, 2004, pp. 163, 166)

Hassam first visited Gloucester as a young artist around 1880. Once he moved to New York in 1889, the town became a convenient stop on the way to summers he spent on Appledore in the Isles of Shoals, with Hassam visiting at least five times in the 1890s. He typically stayed in East Gloucester at hotels like the Hawthorne Inn, which was conveniently located only a few miles from the center of town via an electric tram and provided a great view of the harbor. He would also coordinate his visits with other artists; for example, he traveled with Metcalf to Gloucester in the summer of 1895. It was on these summer painting campaigns at the lively artists' colonies on Appledore and in Gloucester that Hassam perfected his plein-air Impressionist style.

Hassam's early depictions of Gloucester focused on the bustling townspeople and the flurry of activity surrounding the marina. Near the turn of the century, however, following two productive and stylistically innovative European sojourns, Hassam's depictions of this seaside town shifted towards the overall landscape visible from his East Gloucester viewpoint. Ulrich Hiesinger notes, "It was during this visit [of 1899] that Hassam began to envision the Gloucester landscape in a fundamentally new way, replacing fragmentary incidents and scenery with enduring realities expressed in sweeping panoramas of the harbor and town. These have come to be regarded as his quintessential Gloucester views, unrivalled for their breadth, complexity and delicate atmospheric effect." (Childe Hassam, New York, 1994, p. 122)

The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor of 1899 epitomizes this new aesthetic direction, tactfully and artfully obscuring evidence of Gloucester's more commercial aspects to depict a peaceful and picturesque view onto the sailboats of the town’s harbor. At the front of the picture plane, Hassam places a beautiful woman in profile, absolutely at leisure as she looks out onto the sea from her magnificent overlook. Her presence invites the viewer to imagine standing on that porch alongside her to soak in the summer sun and Hassam’s unique vision of the village’s timeless beauty and tranquility. Gloucester offered Hassam the ability to escape from the oppressive and mundane life of the city and allowed his mind to wander and retreat into the depths of his own imagination. By fully manifesting onto canvas these introspective journeys, he offers viewers of his Gloucester pictures a similar passage. Hassam's first biographer Adeline Adams remarked, "How he loved the whole New England coast, with its endless variety of sand, pebbles, and towering granite!...To many an attentive eye, the familiar Hassam magic has altered and enhanced the Gloucester scene, the Provincetown scene, the Newport scene. Those places transcended their former selves, because the invisible had been made visible through the painter's art.” (Childe Hassam, New York, 1938, p. 94) Ernest Haskell similarly wrote in 1922, “Before I had seen Hassam’s pictures, [Gloucester] seemed a fishy little city, now as I pass through it I feel Hassam. The schooners beating in and out, the wharves, the sea, the sky, these belong to Hassam.” (Distinguished American Artists: Childe Hassam, New York, 1922, p. viii)

The transportive quality of Hassam’s Gloucester works is largely derived from his Impressionist concentration on the clear light of summer and its prismatic reflections off the water and landscape. Indeed, The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor was specifically praised by contemporary critics for its similarities in technique to the works of the great French Impressionist master Claude Monet. One reviewer of the painting’s exhibition at the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 declared, “What a stimulating and beneficial tonic the influence of the French Impressionists was upon American art may be seen in…three galleries devoted respectively to Twachtman, Hassam, and Edward W. Redfield. All of these men owe much of what is most vital and lasting in their work to their intelligent application of the lessons taught by the Impressionists. Paintings like ‘The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor,’ by Hassam are rivals of the best produced by Monet…” (J.N. Laurvik, “Evolution of American Painting: As Exemplified in the International Exhibition of Fine Arts in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of San Francisco,” The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, vol. 90, no. 5, September 1915, pp. 783-85) Another critic of the show, Arthur Bridgman Clark, likewise praised, “Hassam. The best American exponent of Monet's methods. ‘The Yachts: Gloucester Harbor,’ is one of the truest and most harmonious.” (Significant Paintings at the Panama Pacific Exhibition: How to Find Them and How to Enjoy Them, Stanford, California, 1915, p. 5)

Susan G. Larkin has reflected, “For most of his long career the varied seaports and villages of the New England coast inspired some of [Hassam’s] most compelling images and shaped the enduring vision of the region as quintessential America.” (“Hassam in New England, 1889-1918,” p. 174) The panorama of The Yachts, Gloucester Harbor unquestionably attests to Hassam’s place among the best in the long line of American artists who have found inspiration in Gloucester’s classic New England summer views, and equally affirms his position among the highest echelon of Impressionist painters.

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