At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) Childe Hassam Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) is a memorable artwork by American Impressionist, Childe Hassam. It was completed between the years of 1885 to 1886 and can be found today at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The use of perspective is particularly impressive within this piece, with a row of trees on one side, and buildings on the other. They slowly head towards a vanishing point far off in the distance and this provides a strong structure to the piece. Hassam often featured very small human figures without any great detail in his sprawling cityscapes but in this piece chose to focus more closely on individual people. This brings a certain level of personality to them and produced quite a different atmosphere to the painting itself. The Impressionists were famous for their coverage of changing time and seasons, with this artwork capturing twilight across a snow-covered street. The artist was heavily inspired and influenced by French Impressionism but would take its features and combine that with elements of American life to develop his own, unique approach. He would soon sell large numbers of paintings and helped the overall art movement to establish itself all across the country.

The location in this piece is Boston Common, making it highly suitable that the painting now resides within a public gallery within the same city. A child offers food to some small birds and the overall theme is of the beauty of winter, and the fun that can be had even in this relatively cold time of year. The item is listed as a Gift of Miss Maud E. Appleton, and was therefore likely to have been gifted to the institution by this individual as a generous donation. Most collections under the public's control have been built up in this manner, with many collectors being happy for as many people to see some of these items as possible. The work is listed as being 107cm by 152cm, making it relatively large for the artist but a fairly standard size for the American Impressionists. The artist would complete several artworks within Boston, including the more famous Rainy Day, Boston.

Childe Hassam had actually studied French art within Boston collections as a means to making up for his lack of formal art training. He would not have known at the time that a century later his own paintings would sit side by side these great works from the past. The use of urban settings was undeniably influenced by the French content that he came across but he worked hard to append his own upbeat, patriotic emotions in combination with the American locations. The common features elm trees around its perimeter and the street that we find to the left is believed to be with Tremont Street Mall. These areas of relaxation within big cities are small pockets of calm which can never be lost to development, such is their importance to the wider population of the city. Within At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) the artist provides a clear contrast between the growing activity of the city to the left, and the alternative, relaxed common, which is full of nature and resplendant in white snow which is relatively untouched by comparison.