Childe Hassam’s World’s Fair Gouaches

Childe Hassam’s World’s Fair Gouaches

Childe Hassam was an eyewitness to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  

Childe Hassam, World’s Fair, Chicago, gouache on paper laid on board, 11 x 14 inches. Heritage Auctions, Nov. 4, 2022

Hassam “added backgrounds and figures to a group of existing architectural drawings by other artists which were then reproduced as a series of chromolithographs entitled Gems of the White City.” (Source of quote below.)

The perspective structure of the buildings is carefully measured. The vertical lines are executed with white gouache over a light gray base color using the paint in a ruling pen.

The style or mindset seems quite different from the chaotic and casual approach to the figures and distant areas.

Hassam painted several views of the Exposition buildings and its visitors using watercolor and gouache. In some of them he allowed the brown paper to show through, creating a warm and cool effect.

The fair was visited by 27 million people in a time when the US population was 50 million. The exposure was a big boost to Hassam’s career.

*Source of quote: Barbara Weinberg.

The auction includes classic illustrators such as JC Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell and American landscape painters such as William Trost Richards and Thomas Moran.