Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Degree Program

Art (Creative) and Art History with a concentration in Critical and Curatorial Studies, MA

Committee Chair

Reitz, Chris

Committee Member

Hufbauer, Benjamin

Committee Member

Kleinkopf, Kathryn

Author's Keywords

art history; american impressionist; urban, nocturne


The scientific investigations into light that began with the Enlightenment garnered added information useful for artists. To depict the changes in light due to weather, time of day, and season more accurately, artists took the information reaped from studies of the refraction of light gained from Isaac Newton’s color theories. The new technological advances of gaslight and electric arc lighting also changed the way that light was represented on canvas. Artists were now able to paint in their ateliers due to modern lighting that would light up the rooms like the day. Some artists decided to explore the night and the absence of light in their compositions, depicting moonlight, the setting sun, or the myriad of artificial lighting sources now available. New lights meant that artists could explore the depictions of upper- and middle-class citizens during leisure activities at night in paintings called nocturnes. I aim to explore these societal changes and the exploration of the new themes captured in nocturnes through the artwork of Frederick Childe Hassam. I am investigating his nocturnes, one sub-genre of landscape painting in which he worked, and the effect that these works, and others like them, had upon the genre of landscape painting, other American painters, and the American art scene itself. These nocturnes explored the mood of the bustling evening city streets of New York which Childe Hassam found distinctly opposite his lively daylight scenes of urban New York.