Notes from an obvious non-academic:
Summer Sunlight by the American Impressionist, Frederick Childe Hassam.(1859-1935) Simply put: when I first saw this painting it took my breath away. (I love when that happens.) It's been a favorite of mine ever since. I love most of Hassam's paintings and since he was quite a prolific painter, there's plenty to love. I've been a big fan of America's Impressionist painters since I first discovered them as a gawking teenager, either at museums or in books from the library. In my day, schools still took kids to museums as part, I suppose, of their cultural enrichment. NYC public schools still considered 'appreciation of art' part of their curriculum then, thank goodness. For someone like me who had never been to a museum with her parents, it was a portal to another world. My feelings of awe when it comes to museums, continues to this day.
This painting, Summer Sunlight, is so infused with light that it seems to radiate. Being able to paint light is such an extraordinary thing, at least in my view. I love the way the woman's dress melts into the rocks into the background. It's all of a piece, no one thing stands out except, perhaps the woman's hair, the little orange book and the saucy hat. There's just something so relaxing about the way she leans into the rocks while she reads, the charming print of her dress blending in with the spattered tones of the background. It's all about attitude, I suppose. The whole scene is one of peaceful languor. A mellow summer afternoon - perfect to view on a cold winter afternoon in January.
The colors, from afar, appear similar in tone, but when viewed up close, you can see the huge variety of color the painter used to achieve this all-of-a-piece effect. To view more of Hassam's paintings at an exhibition hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, please go here.
To read a bit more about the American Impressionist movement in general, please go here, to the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.