The Brush House

Artist: Childe Hassam (American, Dorchester, Massachusetts 1859–1935 East Hampton, New York)

Date: 1916

Medium: Watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper

Dimensions: 15 5/16 x 22 5/16 in. (38.9 x 56.7 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1917

Accession Number: 17.31.1


Between 1896 and 1916, Hassam spent productive periods working in Cos Cob, Connecticut, a modest waterfront section of Greenwich frequented by writers, editors, and musicians as well as painters. The art colonists congregated at a rambling old saltbox that was operated as a genteel boardinghouse by Josephine Holley and her daughter Constant. The old houses, barns, mill, and nearby shipyard inspired so many pictures that Hassam nicknamed the art colony "the Cos Cob Clapboard School." Hassam focused on figural and architectural subjects, including the Holley House itself (now called the Bush-Holley House, a museum operated by the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich). Across the road from the Holley House, the Brush house was built sometime between 1751 and 1784. Artists sometimes roomed at Brush's if the Holley House was full, but its ramshackle condition made it more desirable as the subject of a picture than as a place to stay. In this watercolor of the house, Hassam focused on the network of shadows on the steep roof. He left the paper bare to suggest patches of sunlight in some areas; in others he painted wet-into-wet to produce veils of color.