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The Fourth of July, 1916 (The Greatest Display of the American Flag Ever Seen in New York, Climax of the Preparedness Parade in May)

Object Name: Cityscape
Date: 1916
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Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Unframed: 36 × 26 1/4 in. (91.4 × 66.7 cm) Framed: 48 5/8 in. × 38 5/8 in. × 3 in. (123.5 × 98.1 × 7.6 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Richard Gilder, 2016
Object Number: 2016.31
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This monumental painting by American Impressionist Childe Hassam depicts Fifth Avenue bedecked with dozens of American flags in celebration of Independence Day in 1916. The artist was a committed supporter of the Preparedness Movement, which advocated for a strengthened national defense after the outbreak of war in Europe in July 1914. Proponents of the cause staged parades in cities across the country for the next two years. Witnessing one such parade in May 1916, Hassam commented: “. . . I looked up the Avenue and saw those wonderful flags waving, and I painted a series of flag pictures after that.”

This is the second of Hassam’s flag pictures. The full title of this painting conflates the annual July 4th celebration with the nationalistic fervor created by the Preparedness Movement.