A Return to Nature and Works on Paper

As an early American Impressionist, a prolific printmaker and painter, and a skillful marketer of his work, Childe Hassam (1859-1935) enjoyed critical and financial success until late in his career. By the time he created this watercolor self-portrait en plein air, however, the art market had passed him by and embraced avant-garde movements. At this late stage in his life, Hassam, who was an illustrator before training as a fine artist in Paris, noted the special significance of works on paper, remarking: “I began my career in the graphic arts, and I am ending it in the graphic arts.” The artist shows himself on the boardwalk at the Maidstone Beach Club in East Hampton, New York, one of his favorite places for plein air painting. His high regard for the setting is reflected in an inscription (almost hidden) that meticulously records the place, the date, and even the presence of the dusty miller flower.

Credit: Childe Hassam Self-Portrait by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) 1933, watercolor, graphite and gouache on paper, 9 7/16 x 3 9/16 in. Collection the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; the Ruth Bowman and Harry Kahn Twentieth-Century American Self-Portrait Collection

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.

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