Artist’s paintings can be seen at the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Oval Office
Childe Hassam is well known for his views of streets and parks in New York City.
In 1916, he began his famous flag series that captured the lively display of flags and banners along Fifth Avenue in response to the First World War. The frequent wartime parades that typically passed by his studio on West 57th Street captured his imagination.
Italian Day, May 1918, currently on display at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, is one of about thirty paintings in this series. It depicts a parade in honor of the third anniversary of Italy’s declaration of war against Austria-Hungary in May 1915. Another painting from Hassam’s flag series currently hangs in the Oval Office.
Avenue in the Rain, February 1917, was painted at a time when patriotic fervor was rising and about two months before the United States entered the First World War. The previous month, Germany had extended its unrestricted submarine warfare to neutral ships, including American vessels. The Zimmermann Telegram became public knowledge at the end of February 1917, and the country declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
The painting has been a favorite of many presidents. It was donated to the White House in 1963 and first hung in John F. Kennedy's bedroom. It also adorned the President's Dining Room for many years and could be found in the Oval Office during Bill Clinton's, Barack Obama's, and Donald Trump’s terms. It continues to hang in the Oval Office today.
Avenue in the Rain in the President’s Dining Room during the Reagan Administration.
Avenue in the Rain in President Kennedy’s bedroom, 1963.
Child Hassam's Italian Day, 1918. Oil on canvas.
Peoria Riverfront Museum, Courtesy of Art Bridges Foundation