Visual Arts Project

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The Sonata, by American Artist Childe Hassam, 1859-1935, is a 32 x 32 inches, oil on canvas painting in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Atha bequeathed it to the museum. (1)
I was drawn to this painting by its subject matter-a young woman seated at a piano.


She was portrayed with her face in profile as she studied her hands, which were covered by the folds of the skirt of her white Victorian styled gown. I wondered if she might have had a quarrel with her lover. Above her head, to the right, was a golden mellow rose that made me think this even more. It created in me a mood of sadness, making me recall my own experiences with lost love. As I became more affected by the painting, I wanted to know more about its creator!
While studying the life of Hassam, I learned that the piece is considered one of his best works of art and that he had chosen as an alternate title to the piece, Beethoven's "Appassionato" sonata. (2) It appeared to me that, like Beethoven, he must have had feelings of great passion to be able to create the mood of The Sonata. For me, the subtleness of that passion was further emphasized by Hassam's use of a blend of colors to create a golden gilded hue. The painting is highlighted by this color blend in the colors of the rose, the woman's hair, and in other spots throughout the painting. In contrast to this is the pure whiteness of the Victorian styled gown that the woman wears.
Hassam also called attention to the subtle meaning of the painting with the use of indirect line. ...
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