Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Frederick Childe Hassam and The Sonata

'The Sonata' (1893) by Frederick Childe Hassam; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Today's artist is Frederick Childe Hassam, born on 17 October 1859, a painter whose name I vaguely recognise but I never really knew his paintings. Hissam was a leading and influential American Impressionist painter who was very productive with over 3,000 artworks over the course of his career. He was initially trained as an apprentice to a wood-engraver and went to art school in Boston and Paris. He spent five years in France where he was influenced by Claude Monet. In 1898, he became one of the founders of The Ten, a group of ten American painters who were considered exponents of Impressionism and who rebelled against the conservative Academy. He painted city life as well as life in the countryside, with great use of colour and light. His most famous paintings are the so-called 'Flag' series, paintings of urban celebrations at the end of World War I. His credo, which he stated in 1892, was: "The man who will go down to posterity is the man who paints his own time and the scenes of everyday life around him." For today I chose a lovely depiction of a woman behind the piano. I just found an article on a blog about the artwork. Apparently it was an important painting to the artist himself. We see a woman who is exhausted after having played Beethoven's difficult and lenghty Sonata Appassionata. This painting was probably the model for his many other interior paintings depicting women. Hassam was very attached to it and after already having sold practically all of his collection, he couldn't let go of The Sonata until 26 years after he painted it.

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