Thursday, March 31, 2016

American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals

North Carolina Museum of Art
March 19, 2016 – June 19, 2016

Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Massachusetts
July 16, 2016 to November 6, 2016

This exhibition features 39 of the artist’s finest Shoals paintings in oil and watercolor, borrowed from distinguished museums and private collections. Taken together, these paintings offer a sustained reverie on nature and the pleasure of painting. They possess a rapturous sense of place: the blue Atlantic breaking against rocks and swirling in tidal pools, dense thickets of laurel wedged in granite crags, a splendid island garden with its gemlike blossoms, and the whole island world suffused with a silvered northern light.

The exhibition is jointly organized with the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, with the cooperation of the Shoals Marine Laboratory.

Hassam's many portrayals of the old-fashioned gardens, rocky coast, and radiant sunlight of the Isles of Shoals, Maine, are among his most cherished works and were represented extensively. Among them are the 1894 interior scene

The Room of Flowers (private collection)

and the 1901 view

Coast Scenes, Isles of Shoals,

the first canvas by the artist to enter the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Childe Hassam, Poppies, Isles of Shoals, 1891, oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 24 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Margaret and Raymond Horowitz, 1997.135.1

 Childe Hassam. Isles of Shoals, Broad Cove, 1911. Oil on canvas. Honolulu Museum of Art.

 Childe Hassam Isles of Shoals Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co


Childe Hassam (1859–1935) was the foremost American impressionist of his generation. Prolific in oil paintings and watercolors, he found his native New England to be a touchstone for his art. Hassam had a fascination with Appledore, the largest island of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire, and he traveled there almost every summer for thirty years.

This fascinating book traces Hassam’s artistic exploration of Appledore and reveals a complex portrait of the island created over time. John W. Coffey, working with the marine biologist Hal Weeks, revisits Hassam’s painting sites, identifying where, what, and how the artist painted on the island. Kathleen M. Burnside considers the range of the artist's stylistic responses to the island's nature. A photo essay by Alexandra de Steiguer reveals Appledore’s enduring beauty.