Childe Hassam (1859-1935) remains an eminent figure among American painters and printmakers. During the period from 1886 to 1889, he immersed himself in the artistic effervescence of France, perfecting his skills at the Académie Julian in Paris while coming under the powerful influence of the Impressionist painters, particularly Claude Monet.
In January 1895, the artist embarked on a trip to Cuba in the company of Frank Robinson, a coal merchant and long-time friend, as H. Barbara Weinberg wrote in Childe Hassam: American Impressionist, published in 2004. Their destination was Havana, where the painter settled for over a month. During this fruitful period, he produced three memorable canvases, each capturing striking bird's-eye views of the city's squares, particularly the Plaza Central.
Our work, imbued with a more intimate atmosphere of Havana, is probably the fruit of contemplation from the heights of a window in Mr Robinson's home. In his artistic quest, Childe Hassam frequently expresses his affection for the representation of a mother guiding her child by the hand. This tender maternal representation is also echoed in our painting.
The striking visual contrast between two opposing buildings - a sturdy structure and a humble hut - accentuates the social disparities of the time. It highlights the dichotomy between the working class, symbolised by the silhouette of a maid hanging washing in the background, and the dominant bourgeois class.