Carriage Paradec. 1888 by
Hassam, Childe 1859-1935
Carriage Parade is an example of the Impressionist style Hassam developed while in Paris from 1886 to 1889. It displays the light palette, broken color, and modern subject matter associated with the work of his French counterparts. To achieve natural light and color effects, he followed their practice of painting out of doors. The life and movement of the streets fascinated him, so he worked from cabs, setting up his canvas on the seat before him.
For this painting, Hassam gazed down one of the broad avenues-perhaps the famous Champs-Elysees-that leads to the Arc d'Etoile, seen faintly in the distance. Placed at carriage-level, the viewer seems to be within the stream of vehicles that made up this daily afternoon ritual of fashionable Parisians. By abruptly cropping the foremost carriage, in the manner of Edgar Degas (1834-1917), the artist creates the impression that it has just come into view. Hassam's vigorous brushwork adds to this feeling of a quickly captured moment in time.
Although his many urban views in the 1880s caused Hassam to be compared favorably with European Salon painters, such as Jean Béraud, he refused to describe his scenes in sharp detail. "I cannot imagine, " he said, "how a man who sees fifty feet into a picture can paint the eyes and noses of figures at that distance." Such a painter, he thought, worked according to preconception, not observation. The same applied to color. What he called "molasses and bitumen school" was fond of a rich brown tone that Hassam did not see in nature itself. He wanted to show atmosphere in his painting, hence his works often had the blues and mauves considered outlandish by proponents of the old school. In the Carriage Parade, there are myriad touches of blue, yellow, plum, red-orange, and green, representing the artist's own vision and adding energy to the scene.
Size (inches): 36 1/4 x 19 3/8
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: Haggin Room