The Avenue in the Rain 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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The Avenue in the Rain is a patriotic artwork by American Impressionist, Childe Hassam. This cityscape features a stretch of Fifth Avenue in New York City decorated with the American flag.

This highly memorable piece is perhaps the artist's most famous painting of all and is displayed today within the permanent art collection of the White House in Washington, D.C.. It has also been included within the Oval Office at times, underlining its popularity within the building's overall collection. This style of content is typical of Hassam, and he would capture scenes such as this many times within his career in a body of work which became known as his Flag Series. During his own lifetime there were many events such as this where streets would be decorated in the American flag, and sometimes joined by allies' as well. The content brought colour and energy to his paintings, as well as a strong patriotic feel which would prove popular with the public. Cityscapes were a key part of Impressionist art and the Americans would bring their own nation's architecture to the movement, whilst benefiting from the early advancements made by the Europeans.

The artist would have been in his late fifties at the time that he produced The Avenue in the Rain and it can be considered the pinnacle of his flag series. He would focus on this compositional style most between the years of 1916-1918, and all were based in US cities. Hassam had a connection to Europe having travelled there several times and also taken much from its artistic culture. He was a proud American, though, and so most of his flag depictions feature only the US flag itself. There was much upheaval at the time, due to the ongoing WWI and so patriotism was a key factor in life at that time. One needed something to bring people together and the strength of unity gave people hope for the future, both in the US, but also especially so across in Europe. It must also be remembered that Hassam greatily admired the French Impressionists and the use of atmospheric conditions and streets decorated with flags both appear several times in the work of Claude Monet.

The composition features buildings down the right hand side of the work, with US flags hanging down and covering most of the architecture. One particularly dominant flag hangs in the foreground, with smaller ones appearing further down the street. Below we find a paved walkway with figures carrying umbrellas in the rain. Their images are blurred, in an attempt to convey the atmosphere of falling rain. The brushwork is loose throughout and this was also a common technique used by French and American Impressionists. There is a tone of blue which pervays throughout most of the work, and also just a small element of sky is allowed in due to the considerable height of the buildings which line this part of Fifth Avenue. A tall lampost stands on the left which helps to provide vertical balance and perspective, a mid point between the buildings and the figures below.

The Avenue in the Rain in Detail Childe Hassam