Arts Everyday Living: Through an Impressionist’s Eyes—The Flowers of Paris

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 THROUGH THE EYES OF AN IMPRESSIONIST: THE FLOWERS OF PARIS

I’m closing Childe Hassam (1859-1935) week with his homage to the flower vendors of Paris, produced during his first stay there from 1886-1889 (see: Monday blog for related works).  During this period, his style was often a mix of realism and impressionistic technqiue.  Although he is often classified as an American Impressionist, Hassam never officially affiliated himself with French contemporaries Monet, Renoir, and Degas like fellow countrywoman Mary Cassatt. He was definitely influenced by their expressive use of color, light, and brushwork (and even briefly rented Renoir’s former studio), but he did not view himself as a follower.

I’ve always been drawn to Hassam’s portrayals of this group of creative women, who labored endless hours, offering their beautiful bouquets for a price. He would observe them daily near his apartment in Montmartre, also the residence of several French Impressiionists as well as Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat. Perhaps Hassam and Vincent van Gogh, then rooming with his brother Theo in this section of the city, might have unknowingly passed each other on the neighborhood’s narrow, winding pavements.

In Rue Montmartre, for instance, Hassam focuses on a single seller, standing patiently by her multi-colored basket of blossoms. Has she had to wait long for her next customer?

 

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Childe Hassam, Rue Montmartre,1888, oil on canvas, Private Collection

 

And does she appear again in Flower Girl,  demonstrating her own artistic talent?

 

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Childe Hassam Flower Girl, c.1888, oil on canvas, Private Collection

  

Like another vendor who kneels before her wares in La Bouquetiere et La Laitiere; searching for the perfect arrangement to entice another buyer.  Unlike the clerk of the adjacent milk store, leaning idly in the shop’s door,

(Note: Please double click for a more detailed view.)

 

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Childe Hassam, La Bouquetiere et La Laitiere, c. 1888, watercolor, Private Collection

 

or the mistress of La Fruitiere, obviously bored by the haphazard display of pumpkins in front of the fruit store.  Yet, isn’t she holding a tiny bloom, perhaps a romantic token from a current beau or a signal of availability to the next attractive passerby?

 

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Childe Hassam, La Fruitiere, c. 1888/89, oil on canvas, The Regis Collection, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

While At the Florist,( one of Hassam’s last important works before he departed Paris for the United States in 1889), is the dream of any flower entrepreneur.

(Note: Please double click for a more detailed view.)

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Childe Hassam, At the Florist (Chez la Florist), 1889, oil on canvas, The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia

 

This article is based on various resources about Childe Hassam (see: Monday and Wednesday blogs).

The above images are used solely for educational purposes.

 

 

 

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