1859 Dorchester, Massachusetts – East Hampton, New York 1935
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The Lion Gardiner House, East Hampton 1920
etching on wove paper; 252 x 360 mm (9 1516 x 14 ⅛ inches)
signed with the cypher in pencil lower right and inscribed imp.
Printed by Hassam, with the drying holes at edges characteristic of his proofs; in excellent condition with wide margins.
A fine impression of this iconic image, printed in black on a cream wove paper, with plate-tone, and carefully articulated wiping to accentuate the play of shadows.
Carey and Griffiths suggest that “this print has always rightly been considered as Hassam’s masterpiece” (Frances Carey and Antony Griffiths, American Prints 1879–1979, exhibition catalogue, British Museum, London, 1980, p. 28, no. 37). The image appears to have been drawn on the spot; the artist uses bold patches of cross hatching to create the dramatic, atmospheric shadows cast on the house by the surrounding trees. Lion Gardiner (1599–1663) was the first English settler in New York State. In 1639, he purchased what became known as Gardiner’s Island, a part of the town of East Hampton on Long Island, New York, from the Montaukett Indians. It still belongs to his descendants.
The Avenue of the Allies 1918
drypoint on laid paper; 350 x 245 mm (14 ¾ x 9 ⅝ inches)
signed with the artist’s monogram in pencil lower right and inscribed imp
A fine impression of this large drypoint, with substantial burr especially on the foreground figures and on the flags; printed on a sheet of laid paper taken from a French nineteenth-century book (showing an engraved plate with geometric figures; Hassam collected fine papers to use for his etchings, sometimes, as in this case, taking them out of old books).
Very rare; we do not know of another impression of this print on the market in recent decades.
The Impressionist painter Childe Hassam was one of the first academically trained American artists to address New York subjects in his work during the late nineteenth century. In 1916, the “Preparedness Parade” on Fifth Avenue, intended to demonstrate the country’s readiness to fight in World War I, seems to have inspired the artist to begin his famous series of some 30 oil paintings of the city decked with flags and banners. Fifth Avenue was frequently the scene of fundraising drives and parades; for the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive in the fall of 1918 it became known as the “Avenue of the Allies,” with each block between Twenty-fourth and Fifty-eighth Streets decorated with the flags of a specific Allied nation. Hassam made five paintings of the avenue during this celebration.
In 1915, at the age of 56, Hassam, already well established as a painter, had also begun to exhibit etchings and drypoints. By the time he died 20 years later he had produced more than 375 etchings and 45 lithographs in which he translated an Impressionist preoccupation with effects of light and atmosphere into a graphic idiom. This drypoint shows a view of Fifth Avenue just south of Central Park, some of whose trees are visible in the background. The patriotic message of the vast flags that dominate the upper part of the scene is reinforced by the dramatic grandeur of this iconic thoroughfare, with its elegantly attired citizens and its imposing buildings apparently receding in formation into the infinite distance.