Hassam altered his style in 1887 when he painted Grand Prix Day in light colors that captured the effect of a bright sunny day, rather than using the darker, more tonal palette [31.952] he had previously preferred. He depicted the parade of fashionably dressed Parisians on their way to Longchamp...
Hassam altered his style in 1887 when he painted Grand Prix Day in light colors that captured the effect of a bright sunny day, rather than using the darker, more tonal palette [31.952] he had previously preferred. He depicted the parade of fashionably dressed Parisians on their way to Longchamp in the Bois de Boulogne for the Grand Prix, an important horse race held annually in June. Hassam exhibited a second, larger version, entitled Le Jour du Grand Prix (New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut), at the Salon of 1888. He described the picture to fellow artist Rose Lamb: “I am painting sunlight. . . a ‘four in hand’ and the crowds of fiacres filled with the well dressed women who go to the ‘Grand Prix.’”  Grand Prix Day probably portrays the chestnut-tree-lined avenue Bois de Boulogne (now avenue Foch), with the Arc de Triomphe partially visible to the left. The painting demonstrates Hassam’s adaptation of Claude Monet’s [21.1331] color and brush strokes and the compositional devices of cropping and an empty foreground often utilized by Edgar Degas [39.669] and GustaveCaillebotte [2011.231] to provide a glimpse of modern Parisian life (Degas had painted the racehorses at Longchamp [03.1034] himself some sixteen years earlier). However, Hassam’s more restrained form of Impressionism, influenced by the work of an international group of artists who recorded Paris—including Giuseppe de Nittis, Jean Béraud, and Félix Buhot [M15710]—is evident in the solidity and detail of the horses, carriages, and figures. Notes 1. Childe Hassam to Rose Lamb, November 29, 1887, curatorial files, Department of Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).
Lower left: [crescent] CHILDE HASSAM PARIS 1887
1887, sold by the artist to Williams & Everett, Boston. 1889, with Noyes, Cobb & Co., Boston. About 1900, Celian M. Spitzer (1850-1919), Toledo, Ohio; 1919, sold by the estate of Celian Spitzer to a collateral descendant, Sidney Spitzer (1875-1933), Toledo; by descent to M. Spitzer, Toledo. 1964, with Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York; 1964, sold by Hirschl and Adler to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 8, 1964)
Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund