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CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)

The Bride

CHILDE HASSAM (1859-1935)
The Bride
watercolor and gouache on paper
20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm.)
Executed in 1892.
Private collection, Scituate, Massachusetts.
Private collection, Massachusetts, gift from the above, circa 1963.
By descent to the present owner.
C. Thaxter, An Island Garden, with Pictures and Illumiations by Childe Hassam, Boston, Massachusetts, 1894, the chromolithograph illustrated.
D.P. Curry, Childe Hassam: An Island Garden Revisited, exhibition catalogue, Denver, Colorado, 1990, pp. 77, 79, pl. 29, the chromolithograph illustrated.
H.B. Weinberg, Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2004, pp. 377, 381.
Boston, Massachusetts, Doll and Richards Gallery, Exh. and Private Sale of Water Color Drawings by Childe Hassam, November 2-14, 1894, no. 6.
Chicago, Illinois, The Art Institute of Chicago, 13th Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists, April 25-June 9, 1901, p. 28, no. 157 (as The Bride (Celia Thaxter’s Garden at the Isle of Shoals)).
New York, American Art Association, Thirty-Fifth Annual Exhibition of the American Water Color Society, April 21-May 4, 1902, p. 21, no. 178.
South Poland, Maine, Poland Spring Art Gallery, 8th Annual Exhibition of Paintings by Prominent Artists, Summer 1902, p. 9, no. 94.
Boston, Massachusetts, Doll and Richards Gallery, Exh. and Private Sale of Water Color Paintings By Mr. John La Farge, Mr. Childe Hassam, Miss Lucy S. Conant, November 1902, no. 29.
Further details
This work will be included in Stuart P. Feld's and Kathleen M. Burnside's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

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Lot Essay

"Ever since I could remember anything, flowers have been like dear friends to me, comforters, inspirers, powers to uplift and to cheer. A lonely child living on the lighthouse ten miles away from the mainland, every blade of grass that sprang out of the ground, every humblest weed, was precious in my sight, and I began a little garden when not more than five years old. From this, year after year, the larger one which has given so much pleasure to so many people, has grown." (C. Thaxter, An Island Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, 1894, p. v) These poetic words of Celia Thaxter begin her delightful book of 1894, An Island Garden, which features twenty-two of Childe Hassam's finest watercolors. The Bride of 1892 belongs to this celebrated series, depicting Thaxter's renowned garden on Appledore, the largest of the Isles of Shoals located off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. As demonstrated by the present work’s vibrant arrangement of blooms against tranquil sea, Dr. William Gerdts has described Hassam’s Appledore works as "mosaics of small touches of pure color." (American Impressionism, New York, 1984, p. 99)

Hassam first ventured to the remote island in 1899, lured by Thaxter and her informal salon of distinguished writers, musicians and artists. The shoreline of Appledore was a great attraction to any island visitor, whether tourist or artist, and Hassam’s adoration of the light and color of the island encouraged him to return each summer, includeing after Thaxter's death in 1894.

In addition to the beautiful coastline, Thaxter's garden also proved to be a tremendous inspiration for Hassam's work. A visitor to Appledore described, "Her garden...was unlike any other garden, although more beautiful, perhaps, than the more conventional gardens I have seen lately; for it was planted all helter-skelter, just bursts of color here and there,--and what color!" (M.A. McDowell, as quoted in D.P. Curry, Childe Hassam: An Island Garden Revisited, New York, 1990, p. 71) She filled her garden with colorful poppies, asters, sweet peas and hollyhocks, among many others. Flowers were planted both inside and outside the garden walls in various colors and arrangements, creating the illusion of chaos, when in actuality the garden was well tended and immaculately cultivated.

As is typical of Hassam’s painings of the garden, The Bride is comprised of a shallow space framed by foliage that guides the viewer’s eye to the glimpse of water in the upper background. David Park Curry writes of the present work, “Hassam approached his subject in a consistent manner, using the general composition of In the Garden [1892, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.] He also employed it to depict The Bride, a white poppy Thaxter especially admired…All these flowers did not bloom by the garden gate, but Hassam ‘planted’ them there, relying on the opening in the fence to heighten the drama of the near and far pictorial space by adding a central expanse of distant sea, sometimes enlivened by a passing sailboat.” (Childe Hassam: An Island Garden Revisited, exhibition catalogue, Denver, Colorado, 1990, p. 77)

The Bride serves as a superlative example of Hassam’s lively Impressionist style and is representative of his best paintings from this period. The tranquility and serenity of this summer landscape is poignantly recorded, and he successfully creates an idyllic image that embraces the landscape in its most beautiful and picturesque form. As Curry writes, "Appledore was a place where the imagination could flourish. Inspired by impressions of
the parlor's cultured atmosphere, the garden's brilliant color, and the landscape's wild beauty, Hassam executed some of his most successful works at the Isles of Shoals, where he conducted periodic summer painting campaigns from the mid-1880s until about 1916. The finest Shoals images, created between 1890 and 1912, coincide with the full flowering of Hassam's powers as a painter." (D.P. Curry, An Island Garden Revisited, New York, 1990, p. 14)

The present work retains on its reverse a drawing by Hassam of a young girl, which appears to be a study for a related pastel dated 1892. The subject has been identified as Edith Wolcott Tuckerman, the nine-year-old daughter of Bayard and Annie Smith Tuckerman of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and New York.
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