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Daily Art Moment: Childe Hassam

Spring is approaching, and the clear skies and sunny days are a cheerful welcome. With the changing season, I am reminded of Childe Hassam’s two paintings and his impressions of the Oregon landscape on his second visit to the region, which was quite different from his New England hometown.

In Afternoon Sky, Harney Desert, Hassam traveled with fellow artist Charles Erskine Scott (C.E.S.) Wood to Harney Desert. In these paintings, Hassam captures the stretch of land with a low horizon. The texture of the clouds provides a sense of motion in the sky, while the bright, yellow shrubs reflect the driest time of the season. An exhibition of these paintings at the Museum followed a month later from the excursion and Afternoon Sky, Harney Desert became the first purchase for the museum’s collection, establishing a foundation of not only exemplary work but also one that reflects a dedication to the region.

Hassam also painted Mount Hood during this same visit. The view across the city to Mount Hood is from the southwest hills and is a tonalist composition of powder blues and blush pinks. Similar to his depictions in Harney Desert, Hassam’s painting technique reflects a swift application in painting, capturing the atmosphere of two vastly different Oregon environments.

Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art

Mount Hood. Childe Hassam. 1908. Oil on canvas. 18 in x 25 in. Landscape painting of Mount Hood viewed from Eastern Oregon. The bottom third of the painting consists of various short brushstrokes of blue, tan, brown, and white that make up the desert foliage. The middle of the painting uses longer darker blue brushstrokes to show the hills around the base of the mountain and long thick strokes of white which form Mount Hood. Above and beyond the mountain the blue sky is filled with horizontal banks of clouds. From a distance, the painting portrays a soft, cool view of the landscape. A close view reveals distinct short strokes and the blending of multiple colors.

Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935), Afternoon Sky, Harney Desert, 1908. Oil on canvas. Gift of August Berg, Henrietta E. Failing, Winslow B. Ayer, William D. Wheelwright, I.N. Fleischner, and the D.P. Thompson Estate, 08.1; Mount Hood, 1908. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. Henry Failing Cabell, 53.22