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Home / Blogs / 01/16/2018 News: Canton Museum of Art Features New Hassam Impressionist Work In American Watercolor Masters Special Exhibit

01/16/2018 News: Canton Museum of Art Features New Hassam Impressionist Work In American Watercolor Masters Special Exhibit



The Canton Museum of Art (CMA) presents a special exhibition American Masters: Watercolors from the CMA Collection, which features the Museum’s most recent acquisition: an 1889 Impressionist masterpiece, Bleak House, Broadstairs, by acclaimed pioneer of American Impressionism Childe Hassam. Major watercolors by Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, George Luks, John Marin, Maurice Prendergast, and John Singer Sargent are also featured in this special exhibition, which is on view now through March 2, 2018.


Canton Museum of Art Executive Director & CEO Max Barton said, “We are thrilled to add this important, classic work of American Impressionism to our collection. A work by Hassam has long been on our search list, and we acquired a fine piece with an elegant subject and beautiful orchestration of color. Clearly inspired by Hassam’s exposure to the French style in the late 1800s, the painting is vibrant and crisp, and you feel as though you could step in and stroll the coastal waterway with the young lady.”


Purchase of Bleak House, Broadstairs was made through the Museum’s Accession Fund, which is restricted solely for the purchase of art. Works by Hassam are held in major museum collections across the country, including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art; Smithsonian Museum of American Art; and numerous others.


“As one reviewer of Hassam’s work noted in 1986, ‘ … he evolved a way of using color very freely so that it sometimes seems to take on a life of its own,’” Barton added. “Of particular note is the large building rising in the background, known today as Bleak House. Originally called Fort House, it was one of two coastal forts guarding the maritime bay of Broadstairs, Kent – a town favored by author Charles Dickens for summer holidays. It was inside the rooms of Fort House in the mid-1800s that Dickens wrote “David Copperfield”, perhaps his most famous work. There’s much to imagine in the story within the painting, and public reaction has been wonderful. It’s certainly a work of art to daydream by in the gallery.”


About the Exhibition

Together, the seven artists featured in the American Masters exhibition contribute importantly to our cultural heritage and the evolution of watercolor painting. Rarely are all seven of the masterworks by these artists displayed at one time at CMA. Watercolor is one of the most challenging mediums for artists to use; the colors need to be carefully controlled or they bleed into one another. In the century following the Civil War, watercolor painting became an important American medium, and it was used more freely than anywhere else in the world. American Masters showcases creative excellence in this uniquely American medium that continues to inspire and grow today.   


About Childe Hassam

Childe Hassam (1859-1935) is known as “the father of American Impressionism.” His works consist mainly of watercolors, oils, illustrations, and engravings. Born in Boston, he began his career as a wood engraver and illustrator. He made the first of his many trips to Europe in 1883, and was greatly influenced by the French impressionist movement – though he is often considered bold in his use of color and light. Two years later, he was painting city views of Boston that reflect the influence of French Impressionism. He returned to Europe in 1886 where he painted Bleak House, Broadstairs three years later while visiting a seaside village in Kent County, England. Upon returning to America in 1889, he settled in New York City and painted Impressionist street scenes under varying weather conditions. By 1900, Hassam had emerged as one of the country’s leading Impressionists. Some of his most distinctive pieces encompass “The Flag Series,” which consists of around 30 paintings created in support of the Allied efforts in World War I. Perhaps the most famous of those is an oil entitled The Avenue in the Rain (1917), showcasing U.S. flags along Fifth Avenue in New York, which has been a centerpiece of the White House Art Collection since 1963.


About the Canton Museum of Art

The Canton Museum of Art is one of Ohio’s premier museums for an exceptional visual arts experience, recognized for powerful original exhibitions and national touring exhibitions focused on American art. The Museum’s innovative education outreach programs, classes, and workshops serve thousands of students of all ages. CMA’s acclaimed collection focuses on American works on paper, primarily watercolors, and contemporary ceramics. Founded in 1935, the Canton Museum of Art makes the discovery and exploration of art accessible to all. Visit cantonart.org to learn more.


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Bleak House, Broadstairs, 1889. Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935).

Watercolor on paper; 13 ½ x 9 ¾ in. Collection of the Canton Museum of Art. 2017.83

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