When Childe Hassam stepped off the ferry onto the rocks of Appledore Island, he found the place that would occupy his imagination for three decades. Comfortably ensconced in a rambling resort, waking to bright sun and Atlantic breezes, the artist gave himself over to painting en plein air. Hassam created a body of work that remains a pinnacle of American impressionism.
This is the first exhibition in more than 25 years to focus on Hassam's paintings of the Isles of Shoals, a group of small, rocky islands lying in the Gulf of Maine six miles off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals is the result of an unprecedented collaboration of research between geologists, marine scientists and curators that led to new discoveries about Hassam's paintings and artistic practice.
The exhibition features more than 40 oil paintings and watercolors dating from the late 1880s to 1912, offering a sustained reverie on nature, the pleasure of painting and a rapturous sense of place and color: a celebrated island garden with its gem-like flowers, dense thickets of bayberry wedged in granite crags, and the dark ocean breaking against rocks and swirling in tidal pools.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog, American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals , traces Hassam’s artistic exploration of Appledore - the largest island of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire - and reveals a complex portrait of the island created over time. Childe Hassam (1859–1935) was the foremost American impressionist of his generation, prolific in both oil paintings and watercolors, he found his native New England to be a touchstone for his art and he had a fascination with Appledore. 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.