CHILDE HASSAM (1859–1935)
Seascape: Appledore, Isles of Shoals, 1902
Oil on canvas, 14 1/4 x 19 1/2 in.
Signed and dated (at lower right): Childe Hassam 1902
EXHIBITED: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, February–March 1964, Childe Hassam, 1859–1935, no. 23 as “Sunny Blue Sea” // Murphy Fine Arts Center, Baltimore, Maryland, 1965, Aspects of Morgan State Collection, as “Sunny Blue Sea”
EX COLL: [E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, 1962, as “Sunny Blue Sea”]; Daniel and Rita Fraad, New York; by gift to Morgan State College, Baltimore, Maryland, by 1965; [Spanierman Gallery, New York]; to Mr. and Mrs. Douglass Carmichael, Washington, D.C., and by descent, until the present
In the years after Celia Thaxter’s death in 1894, Childe Hassam continued to visit Appledore Island, the largest of the Isles of Shoals. He shifted his attention, however, from Thaxter’s garden and the immediate environs of the grand resort hotel her family had built, to the wild, indented shoreline where ancient rocks rose up to redirect the surf of the Atlantic Ocean. The artist made close observations of these scenes of nature’s drama, studying the interlocked ecology of the salt-sprayed plants, the jagged coastline with its offshore boulders breaking the surface of the water, the wide expanse of ocean and the sky in its infinite variations. Seascape: Appledore, Isles of Shoals is one such study, dating to 1902: a study of rocks and water somewhere at the edge of Appledore. While Winslow Homer, some fifty miles up the Maine coast at Prout’s Neck gloried in the majesty of Atlantic storms witnessed from the secure vantage point of his home studio, Hassam painted by taking his gear out on the rocks and setting up his canvas and easel in the outdoors. Little wonder then, that his pictures typically show sunny days. In Seascape: Appledore, Isles of Shoals Hassam is perched on the bare rocks near the water, past the area covered with wild flowers and sea grasses He looks at the large expanse of ocean, a brilliant blue roiled only by spray where the Atlantic breaks against partially submerged rocks punctuating the area nearest the shore. Although Hassam found Appledore “full of ghosts” in the years after Thaxter’s death, he continued to return, enchanted by “the rocks and the sea.” They were, he wrote, among “the few things that do not change and ... are wonderfully beautiful.”