Celia Thaxter's Garden, Isles of Shoals, Maine 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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Celia Thaxter's Garden, Isles of Shoals, Maine is a charming artwork by American Impressionist, Childe Hassam. It dates from 1890 and can now be found within the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US.

The artist finds an interesting contrast within this painting, where flowers grow from amidst a rocky terrain. Red poppies capture our eyes with their bright colour, and tones of white alongside help to excite our senses. Perspective is delivered through the background which features a number of small rock formations which appear around the island itself on which the artist is based. Between them we find a relatively calm blue sea and a slither of bright sky above. This feels a tranquil location from which the artist can relax and he would produce several different paintings within his friend's garden. Whilst the flowers look wild and untamed, you will notice how vertical balance is added to the sides of the painting with tall flowers reaching up towards the top of the canvas, where as the central part of the work features shorter plants which allow the background to show through. The loose brushstrokes of the Impressionists work well in formats such as this, where small dabs of colour can deliver flower heads, without the need for extensive detail.

The artist would spend several summers across the 1890s on Appledore Island, which was one of the Isles of Shoals in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. Celia Thaxter was the owner of this property and was a good friend of Hassam. She would have been delighted to see him working in this manner and as a Novelist herself, entirely understood and respected the artistic process. During their time together he would feature spots in and around her home several times, with perhaps this painting being the best of them all. Hassam was an incredibly prolific artist and worked hard throughout his lifetime to output new artworks on a regular basis. One can imagine a painting such a as this being relatively quick to complete, with only natural elements featured and not the same precise detail that you mgiht find in other styles such as Realism or traditional academic approaches. He may have worked outdoors for this piece, enjoying the comfort of being with a friend, where as other Impressionist artists would return to their studios having completed preparatory sketches.

It is paintings such as Celia Thaxter's Garden, Isles of Shoals, Maine which immediately mark Hassam out as an American Impressionist, with this piece being as strong an example as possible for the conversation around how the French masters would inspire his own work. To see local regions such as New Hampshire included in his work would also appeal to the domestic market and Hassam always had to consider what works would sell, as well as which content he wanted to cover himself. The bright colour and reduced detail was one of the successes of the Impressionist movement and its popularity has continued up to the present day. One can argue that it perfectly married contemporary and traditional art in a manner that has never since been beaten and this is supported by the continued interest in artists like Hassam that continues today.