Lafayette Street. 1918. Crayon and lithotint. Kleeman 18; Griffith 5. 14 5/8 x x 11 (sheet 18 x 11 3/4). Edition 59. A rich impression printed on Japanese mulberry paper with an oak leaf watermark. Signed and annotated in the stone "Childe Hassam 1918"; signed with the cypher in pencil. $7,500.
The lithograph is based Hassam's flag painting of the same title.
The most distinctive and famous works of Hassam's later life comprise the set of some thirty paintings known as the "Flag series". He began these in 1916 when he was inspired by a "Preparedness Parade" (for the US involvement in World War I), which was held on Fifth Avenue in New York (renamed the "Avenue of the Allies" during the Liberty Loan Drives of 1918). Thousands participated in these parades, which often lasted for over twelve hours.
An avid Francophile, of English ancestry, and strongly anti-Germany, Hassam enthusiastically backed the Allied cause and the protection of French culture. The Hassams joined with other artists in the war relief effort from nearly the beginning of the conflict in 1914, when most Americans as well as President Woodrow Wilson were decidedly isolationist. Hassam even considered volunteering to record the war in Europe, but the government would not approve the trip. He was even arrested (and quickly released) for innocently sketching naval maneuvers along the city's rivers. In addition to the time he gave to many committees, several of his flag pictures were contributed to the war relief in exchange for Liberty Bonds. Although he had great hopes that the entire series would sell as a war memorial set (for $100,000), the pictures were sold individually after several group exhibitions, the last at the Corcoran Gallery in 1922.
Lafayette Street is a major north-south street in New York City's Lower Manhattan. It originates at the intersection of Reade Street and Centre Street, one block north of Chambers Street. The one-way street then successively runs through Chinatown, Little Italy, NoLIta, and NoHo and finally, between East 9th and East 10th Streets, merges with Fourth Avenue. A buffered bike lane runs outside of the left traffic lane. North of Spring Street, Lafayette Street is northbound (uptown)-only; south of Spring Street, Lafayette is southbound (downtown)-only.
The street is named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolutionary War.
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