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Apr. 18 ArtMinute: Childe Hassam | Rainy Day, Boston

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Museum, art, artminute, art of the week
Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935) Rainy Day, Boston. Oil on canvas, 1885. Purchased with fund from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1956.53

In Rainy Day, Boston Childe Hassam chose a thoroughly modern subject: the wide avenues and new brick row houses of Boston's fashionable South End at the intersection of Columbus Avenue (on the left) and Appleton Street. Hassam, who lived at the time on Columbus Avenue, explained that his street "was all paved in asphalt, and I used to think it was very pretty when it was wet and shining, and caught the reflections of passing people and vehicles." 

Modern, too, was the unusual use of empty space in the center foreground of the painting. The plunging perspective of the streets and the "wide angle" view suggests the influence of photography, still relatively new. The effects of weather and the subject of city life with its to-and-fro bustle (notice how Hassam slightly blurs the trotting horses' legs to capture the idea of movement) were influenced by the French Impressionists.