With the recent acquisition of the Childe Hassam painting The Red Mill, Cos Cob, a momentous addition to its collection of American Impressionist paintings, the Historical Society furthers its mission to connect visitors to the past and interpret the legacy of the Cos Cob art colony.
Made possible through the generosity of Susan G. and James T. Larkin, Sally and Larry Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Peter L. Malkin, Debbie and Russ Reynolds, Reba and Dave Williams and Lily Downing and David Yudain, the painting will be among the most significant in the Historical Society’s collection.
“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the Trustees and Donors who have made this acquisition possible,” said Debra Mecky, Historical Society Executive Director and CEO. “In addition to its value as an important work by a world-renowned American Impressionist, it illustrates the importance of Cos Cob in the development of American art.”
Attracted to Cos Cob Art Colony and Inspiring Countryside
A pioneer in American Impressionism, and one of the most influential and successful artists of the early 20th century, Childe Hassam (1859-1935) spent considerable time in Cos Cob between 1896-1918, producing dozens of paintings, pastels and etchings depicting the Holley House (now the Bush-Holley House Museum) and the nearby waterfront commercial district known as the Lower Landing.
He was attracted to Cos Cob for the camaraderie of the art colony, and for the inspiring subject matter. Local architecture, like the Holley House, and workaday buildings like barns, warehouses, wharfs, and workshops were of particular interest.
In The Red Mill, Cos Cob, Hassam utilizes a lively palette and short, punctuated brush strokes to capture the rusticated appearance of the Palmer & Duff shipyard, once located in the Lower Landing on the small peninsula in the Mianus River opposite the Bush-Holley House. The canvas is among the earliest of Hassam’s paintings made in Cos Cob, dating to his first visit to the Holley family’s boarding house in the autumn of 1896.
Founded in 1848, Palmer & Duff built commercial sailing vessels used as market boats for transporting farm products to New York traders. By the 1890s their business was somewhat in decline, and had shifted to repairing the few oyster sloops still in operation on the Long Island Sound, and servicing pleasure yachts owned by wealthy New Yorkers who had begun settling in Greenwich. Just eleven years after Hassam made this painting the Palmer & Duff shipyard closed. The Palmer Engine Company—a separated business entity—constructed a large manufacturing plant for marine engines alongside the former shipyard in 1901, a sign that the nature of maritime business had changed, and with it, the character of the Lower Landing.
Exhibition to be Staged in January
A small focus exhibition to showcase the painting and the changing landscape of the Cos Cob Lower Landing is planned for January 2021. Details will follow.