Building the Schooner, ProvincetownOn Display

This colorful and light-filled masterpiece by the American Impressionist Childe Hassam held a special place within the artist’s home. In a 1956 letter to Richard Howard, first director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, Joseph Gotlieb, a New York art dealer, explained, “‘Building the Schooner, Provincetown’ was one of Mrs. Hassam’s personal favorites, and the painting was never for sale while Mr. or Mrs. Hassam lived. I personally remember seeing it there on the wall.” In 1900, Hassam visited Provincetown, Massachusetts, the historic and picturesque village at the tip of Cape Cod. Once a thriving center for fishing, whaling, and shipbuilding, by the time Hassam visited, the town had begun to rely heavily on tourism. Here, Hassam depicts a once frequent, but now rare event: the building of a schooner. Commissioned as a luxury yacht by a Chicago millionaire, the Charlotte was the first large ship to be built in Provincetown in a quarter of a century.