National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Allies Day, May 1917 Childe Hassam (artist)
American, 1859 - 1935
Allies Day, May 1917, 1917
oil on canvas
overall: 92.7 x 76.8 cm (36 1/2 x 30 1/4 in.) framed: 110.8 x 94.3 x 6.4 cm (43 5/8 x 37 1/8 x 2 1/2 in.)
Gift of Ethelyn McKinney in memory of her brother, Glenn Ford McKinney
On View
From the Tour: American Impressionists of the Late 1800s and Early 1900s
Object 3 of 7

Allies Day, May 1917 is one of about thirty oil paintings that Childe Hassam made of New York City's flag-decked streets during World War I. On 9 and 11 May 1917 the British and French war commissioners paraded down Fifth Avenue, temporarily proclaimed "the Avenue of the Allies," to celebrate the United States' entry into the war. The slogan "Show your colors" brought forth a patriotic flurry of Union Jacks, Tricolors, and Stars and Stripes.

With his easel on a balcony at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-second Street, Hassam looked northward past Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, the University Club, and the Gotham Hotel toward the yellow-green spring foliage in Central Park. The bold designs of the flags and the strong lines of the architecture well complement each other. So that the sky could compete with these vigorous shapes and assertive colors, Hassam applied vivid aqua blue in upright streaks that march across the air, much like the pedestrians who stroll in the street below.

On his second trip to Europe in 1886­1887, Hassam had been among the first Americans to embrace French impressionism. With his New Englander's worship of order, however, he consistently subjected his compositions and brushstrokes to a geometric rigor. Hassam even claimed, somewhat dubiously, "I have to de-bunk the idea that I use dots of color, so called, or what is known as Impressionism."

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