The History of the Sun: Childe Hassam and American Impressionism, 1890-1910


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This project investigates the cultural significance of sunlight in turn-of-the-century America, in order to provide a framework with which we can understand American impressionist painting. Paintings by Childe Hassam, among others, have not been given their critical due, even as they have received much attention in recent years. Sunlight during the period was an equivocal metaphor, able to signify both an invigorating energy and a deadening weight or oppression. By tying study of the painting to period-specific meanings of sunlight, this project reveals the ways in which sunlight was captured in the medium of paint to denote asppects of upper- and middle-class subjectivity.