The Childe within

The work of American impressionist Childe Hassam is currently on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Although we have yet to see the exhibit, we did visit Appledore Island, a subject of Hassam’s work between approximately 1882 and 1916. Appledore, off the coast of Maine, is the largest of the Isles of Shoals.

Our island stay was brief and, having spent time on Star, Appledore’s neighbor to the south, I knew that photographic possibilities would be endless. Because I am a particular fan of seascapes, I settled upon recording these using extended exposure.

As I looked over the first series of photos I was struck by similarities between my images and those painted by Hassam more than a century ago. The colors of our creations were similar. The vantages from which we chose to work were similar. And the use of a slow shutter seemed, to me at least, to mimic the feel of Hassam’s impressionistic brush strokes.

I once read that impressionism was the art of capturing an image as someone would see it if they just caught a glimpse of it. Perhaps. To me, however, Childe Hassam had an exceptional ability to capture the living, vital, character and spirit of nature itself.


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