Frederick Childe Hassam is one of the most celebrated Impressionists of the United States of America. He was born in October 1859 in Boston, Massachusets and showed a great interest in art from an early age. While attending The Mather School - the oldest public elementary school in the country - Hassam experienced his first watercolor and drawing lessons. Although he showed an innate talent for art, his parents didn’t take enough notice to encourage him to follow in a career as an artist.
Hassam’s parents lost their business in 1872 after a fire destroyed the city's commercial district. By the age of 17, the young man dropped out of school and refused his uncles offer for a paid education in Harvard, choosing to work and help his family financially instead. He was able to find a job with George Johnson as a wood engraver, creating commercial designs for newspapers and letterheads. During this period, Hassam was also painting landscapes and cityscapes, mostly outdoors and preferring to use watercolors. By 1879, he began experimenting with oil painting as well.
In 1882, Hassam continued studying drawing and painting at the Lowell Institute and the Boston Art Club, but was officially a freelance illustrator, focusing mostly on illustrating children’s stories. He worked for the leading magazines at the time, including Scribner’s Monthly, The Century, and Harper’s Weekly, and had his own studio. A year later, Hassam had his first solo exhibit, where he showed watercolor paintings at the William and Everett Gallery, located in Boston. During the summer of 1883, the American painter along with his friend Edmund H. Garrett, also a Boston Art Club member, travel to Europe to study art. In a period of two months, they visited the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland to portray landscapes in watercolor, as well as study Classic works of past masters. Hassam was deeply inspired by the paintings produced by J. M. W. Turner, creating about 67 watercolors himself - artworks that would later become the foundation for his second solo art exhibit, done in 1884.
Like the French Impressionists, Hassam also preferred to work en plein air, meaning he painted outdoors. The Realist artists William Morris Hunt and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot served as great inspiration for Hassam as they also tended towards working from nature. Along with landscapes, the American artists would portray many cityscapes, like Boston Common at Twilight, a non-traditional subject matter. During Hassam’s career, he moved away from the Academic teachings, not only in his subject matter but his use of color and loose brushstrokes, eventually joining the group of American Impressionists called The Ten. Throughout his career, Hassam concluded over three thousand works of art, including oil and watercolor paintings, as well as lithographies and etching prints. He passed away in August of 1935, at 75 years of age, in East Hampton, New York.