A New Year’s night in a wintry Gilded Age city

Random Musings

Ephemeral New York

Frederick Childe Hassam painted his lovely and mysterious “New Year’s Nocturne” in 1892. He gives us a young urban couple bathed in brilliant light in the dark winter night.

Newyear'snocturne

He’s dressed to the nines in top hat and tails, and she looks elegant in winter white and furs. They’re part of the in crowd, the smart set. Maybe they’re returning from the theater. Perhaps they are on their way to a New Year’s party.

In the shadows, other couples go on their way. Meanwhile, these two have stopped in front of a shop window display. If only we could ask Hassam, one of the great painters of New York’s Gilded Age, what has given them pause.

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