Digital Commonwealth

Childe Hassam (1859-1935). Prints and Drawings

Boston Public Library

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Frederick Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935) was a painter, printmaker, draftsman, and illustrator.

Born in Boston, Hassam began his artistic career by studying wood engraving and producing designs for letterheads, newspapers, and other commercial publications. In 1882, he established himself as a free-lance illustrator, specializing in illustrations for children’s stories published in such magazines as Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s Monthly, and The Century, while at the same time he developed his skill as a painter. In 1889, Hassam and his wife settled in New York City; however, he continued to work both in the United States and in France. He also spent summers painting as a member of the artist colony established by the poet Celia Thaxter on Appledore Island, one of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire.

Although he explored etching and lithography earlier in his career, Hassam did not turn his attention to publishing the images he created until 1915. The prints include images of street scenes in Paris and New York as well as the historic architecture, landscape, and coast of New England. In particular, he found a wealth of subjects in Easthampton (New York), Cos Cob and Old Lyme (Connecticut), Gloucester (Massachusetts), and Portsmouth (New Hampshire).

In 1951, Albert H. Wiggin donated to the Boston Public Library a collection of prints and drawings by Hassam that he had purchased from the art dealer Guy Mayer. Included in the collection are a number of pencil studies for published prints. The library also is fortunate to have received eight watercolor drawings that Hassam created as illustrations for An Island Garden by Celia Thaxter, the gift of Kathleen Rothe in 1958. In addition, the library’s collection includes a photograph of Hassam in his studio on Appledore Island, the gift of Charles Childs.

Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

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