switch views:
  • view lightbox
  • view single item
  • view list

Childe Hassam

Born: 1859, Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States of America
Died: 1935, East Hampton, New York, United States of America

Horticulture Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago
1893

Oil on canvas
Image: 18 1/2 x 26 1/4 in. (47.0 x 66.7 cm)
Frame: 26 13/16 x 34 3/8 in. (68.1 x 87.3 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.67
Signed: Lower left: Chicago 1893/Childe Hassam
Artist Name: []

Interpretation

Childe Hassam’s Horticulture Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago shows the large, glass-domed building as seen from the park-like Wooded Island set in the lagoon at the heart of the 1893 world’s fair grounds in Chicago. The mammoth Horticulture Building, one of many grand, display-crammed palaces at the fair, rises magically in the background like an iridescent bubble under a benign blue summer sky. In the middle distance, well-dressed fairgoers promenade along a wide clay path, while a woman and child rest on a bench under a parasol, their faces turned toward the viewer. Vigorous brushwork and brilliant color suggest the glare of midday sun and the blur of moving bodies, garments, and faces. In this respect, Horticulture Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago demonstrates Hassam’s conversion only a few years earlier to the techniques and approach of impressionism, the painting of everyday subjects with rapid, broken brushstrokes and undiluted color to suggest the shimmering effect of reflected light and the transience of actual experience.

Horticulture Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago is one of a number of images of the 1893 world’s fair that Hassam appears to have made on commission, intended for reproduction; another is the Terra Foundation’s monochrome tempera painting Columbian Exposition, Chicago (TF 1992.38). Hassam visited Chicago in 1892, but his many images of the fair, which did not open until the following year, were made from architects’ drawings of the projected buildings. Although a group of Hassam’s paintings won a bronze medal in the fair’s art exhibition, the artist never visited the World’s Columbian Exposition. Horticulture Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago is thus an imagined view. The rather finicky particularity with which the details of the distant Horticulture Building are recorded reflects the artist’s reliance on an architectural rendering, while the foreground park scenery probably was executed in the artist’s studio from his projection of the Wooded Island’s future appearance, despite the suggestion of on-site execution evinced by the spontaneous immediacy of the loose brushwork. Horticulture Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago resembles paintings of the parks of Manhattan and Brooklyn by Hassam’s American impressionist contemporaries, who applied the strategies of impressionism to the theme of urban parks as they tentatively approached the new subject of the modern city.

The fictional aspect of Horticulture Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago is consistent with Hassam’s other views not only of the fair but of real cities as well. In many of his urban scenes an aura of impressionist authenticity and first-hand experience conceals the artist’s careful manipulation of his subject to avoid allusion to the grimmer realities of modern urban life. From this standpoint, Hassam was an ideal portrayer of the fair, an artificial “White City” of fairytale perfection not only in its uniformly classical architecture but in its controlled, genteel social order.

Return to top

Provenance

The artist
Private collection, New York
Newhouse Galleries, New York
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York, 1966–67
Mrs. Norman B. Woolworth, New York, 1967
Sarah Mleczko Fine Art, New York, New York
Daniel J. Terra Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1994
Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1999

Return to top

Exhibition History

The American Painting Collection of Mrs. Norman B. Woolworth, Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, New York, November 10–28, 1970, no. 40. [exh. cat.]

Childe Hassam, 1859–1935, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York, March 21–May 10, 1970, no. 9.

Masters of American Impressionism, Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc., New York, New York, March 9–April 3, 1976. [exh. cat.]

Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, The Jordan-Volpe Gallery, Inc., New York, New York, May 20–July 1, 1994. [exh. cat.]

Domestic Bliss: Family Life in American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 12–June 22, 1997.

Figures and Forms: Selections from the Terra Foundation for the Arts, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, May 9–July 9, 2000.

William Merritt Chase: Modern Landscapes, 1886–1890, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York (organizer). Venues: Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, September 7–November 26, 2000.

Héroïque et le quotidien: les artistes américains, 1820–1920 (The Extraordinary and the Everyday: American Perspectives, 1820–1920), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–November 30, 2001. [exh. cat.]

Childe Hassam (1859–1935): Transatlantic Impressions, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, February 16–April 28, 2002.

A Place on the Avenue: Terra Museum of American Art Celebrates 15 Years in Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 16, 2002–February 16, 2003.

American Classics, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, December 13, 2003–February 8, 2004.

Childe Hassam (1859–1935) Retrospective, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York (organizer). Venue: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, June 7–September 12, 2004. [exh. cat.]

Le Temps des loisirs : peintures américaines (At Leisure: American Paintings), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, July 15–October 31, 2007.

Le Temps des loisirs : peintures américaines (At Leisure: American Paintings), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–October 31, 2008.

The American Impressionists in the Garden, Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee (organiser). Venues: Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee, March 13–September 6, 2010; Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida, September 24, 2010–January 3, 2011; Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, February 18–May 15, 2011. [exh. cat.]

American Impressionism: a New Vision, 1880–1900 (L'Impressionnisme et les Américains/ Impresionismo Americano (French & Spanish titles), Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, Giverny, France and the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (organizers). Venues: Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, Giverny, France, March 28–June 29, 2014; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, July 19–October 19, 2014; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain, November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015. [exh. cat.]

Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas , The New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York (organizer). Venue: The New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York, May 14–September 11, 2016; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia, February 18–May 14, 2017 (as American Impressionism in the Garden). [Exh. cat.]

Return to top

Published References

The American Painting Collection of Mrs. Norman B. Woolworth. (exh. cat., Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc.). New York: Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc., 1970, no. 40. p. 27.

Masters of American Impressionism. (exh. cat., Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc.). New York: Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc., 1976. Ill. no. 13 (black & white, as Crystal Palace, Chicago Exposition, 1893).

Hoopes, Donelson F. Childe Hassam. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1979. Text p. 36; ill. p. 37 (color, as Crystal Palace, Chicago Exposition).

Gerdts, William H. American Impressionism. New York: Abbeville Press, 1984. Ill. p. 138 (color detail), p. 143 (color, as Crystal Palace, Chicago Exposition).

Hiesinger, Ulrich W. Childe Hassam: American Impressionist. (exh. cat., Jordan-Volpe Gallery). Munich and New York: Prestel-Verlag, 1994. Text pp. 93, 99; fig. 104, p. 99 (color, as Horticultural Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. An American Point of View: The Daniel J. Terra Collection. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text p. 102; ill. p. 102 (black & white).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. Un regard transatlantique. La collection d'art américain de Daniel J. Terra. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text p. 102; ill. p. 102 (black & white).

Weinberg, H. Barbara. Childe Hassam: American Impressionist. (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. Text pp. 171, 181, no. 64, p. 408; ill. p. 178 (color detail), fig. 192, p. 181 (color).

Hill, May Brawley. The American Impressionists in the Garden. (ex. cat., Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, Tenessee). Nashville: Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art and Vanderbilt University Press, 2010. Text pp. 18, 120 (checklist); ill. pl. 31, pp. 90–91 (color).
<
The American Impressionists in the Garden, American Art Review (April 2010): 82–91, 126–128. Ill. p. 83 (color).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. American Impressionism: A New Vision 1880-1900. (exh. cat., Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, National Galleries of Scotland, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza). Giverny, France: Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, 2014. (English, French and Spanish versions). Ill. p. 98 (color).

Ferber, Linda S. (ed.). Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas (exh. cat. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York and the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia). Bronx, NY: The New York Botanical Garden, 2016. Text pp. 32, 75 (checklist). Ill. p. 34 (color).

Return to top