Childe Hassam (American, 18591935)
Oil on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1925 (25.206)
Hassam visited Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing port and resort, as early as 1880 or 1881, occasionally painted views of the village during the 1890s, and returned there in 1917 and 1918. The church depicted here is the Universalist Independent Christian Church, dedicated in 1806. Hailed as one of Cape Ann's finest churches, it housed a congregation associated with the granting of religious freedom to all denominations. It was also celebrated for its bell, cast at Paul Revere's foundry. Following immediately upon Hassam's Flag series, the painting is likewise infused with the nationalistic spirit that pervaded America during World War I. A lithograph by the artist entitled Colonial Church, Gloucester (40.30.30) is quite close in composition to this painting. In 1923, Hassam made an etching of the church, which is a mirror image of the lithograph. Both the prints and the painting may relate to a recorded but long-lost drawing of the church.