Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam
Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam
Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam

Gardiner’s Island - The Back Dive by Childe Hassam

  • This oil on panel is a significant example of the mature style of Childe Hassam
  • The vibrantly hued work represents the culmination of his experimentation with light and color
  • It reveals his late interest in pattern and design, as well as classical subject matter
  • Complete in its original frame, it is a rarity from this American Impressionist master
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Item No. 30-9167
$298,500
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Childe Hassam
1859-1935 | American

Gardiner's Island: The Back Dive

Signed and dated "Childe Hassam 1921" (lower left); inscribed "Gardiner's Island / The Back Dive" (en verso)
Oil on panel

Childe Hassam is among the most important figures of the American Impressionist movement, and this oil is a significant example of his mature style. The vibrantly hued work represents the culmination of nearly four decades of experimentation with light and color, revealing Hassam's fully developed impressionist technique. Furthermore, its unique perspective and compositional style signal Hassam's new interest in surface design and pattern, bringing to mind the dreamy, arcadian works of the great American avant-garde painter Arthur B. Davies. Even as his career came to an end, Hassam was constantly pushing boundaries and experimenting, and Gardiner's Island: The Back Dive exemplifies his unique aesthetic spirit.

In 1919, Hassam purchased a summer home in East Hampton, and for the last 15 years of his life, he resided at this Long Island residence during the summer months. Throughout his stays, he painted some of his most chromatically brilliant works featuring the area's gardens, sand dunes, sprawling beaches, golf courses, farmland, streets and homes. It was during this period of Hassam's career that he also developed a major interest in classical subject matter, and his Long Island paintings such as this regularly featured small idealized female nudes.

Gardiner's Island: The Back Dive features the shoreline of Gardiner's Island, a small, privately owned island located approximately three miles from the East Hampton shore. The Gardiner family lived there continuously until 1915, when the property was leased to Clarence H. Mackey, who permitted Hassam to paint there. Nude female figures appear upon the shore in a frieze-like arrangement. The women symbolize purity, innocence, and beauty, echoing the artist's immense regard for the area's landscape.

As in many of his works of the period, Hassam utilized a horizontal format, aligning the foreground, middle ground and background parallel to the picture plane and treated them as distinct, flat planes. The work is set apart by the fact that it still retains its original frame. Hassam was famously fastidious about his paintings' frames, and by the late 1910s, he even began to design his own frames that featured his initials. Still, once he developed his signature initialed frame, Hassam used it only selectively, more often selecting an antique or imported frame. To find a Hassam in its original frame in such spectacular condition is a rarity.

A pioneer of American Impressionism, Hassam’s subjects are both nostalgic and vibrant, and today are considered among the best of turn-of-the-century American art. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Hassam began his artistic career as a freelance illustrator, working for nation-wide publications such as Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s Monthly, and The Century. His first solo exhibition of watercolors took place in Boston in 1883, and he quickly catapulted onto the international scene, winning a bronze medal at the Exposition Universale in Paris in 1889, the same year this work was created.

Hassam would receive numerous other awards over the course of his career, most notably the Gold Medal for Distinguished Services to Fine Art from the American Dealers Association. A true master, Hassam depicted a way of life characteristic of both American and French society, and his work represents an important chapter in American art history.

Dated 1921

Panel: 6 3/4" high x 24 3/4" wide
Frame: 15 7/8" high x 33 3/4" wide
specifications
Artist: Hassam, Childe
Period: 1919-Present
Origin:America
Subject:Nudes
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