The Fourth of July, 1916

June 14, 2016
October 02, 2016

The New-York Historical Society commemorated Flag Day and Independence Day 2016 with the unveiling of The Fourth of July, 1916, the magnificent gift of Chairman Emeritus Richard Gilder.

This monumental painting by Childe Hassam, an American Impressionist, depicts Fifth Avenue bedecked with dozens of American flags in celebration of Independence Day exactly one hundred years ago. 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―up Broadway and Fifth Avenue, led by an enormous, 95-foot flag―Hassam commented: “. . . I looked up the Avenue and saw those wonderful flags waving, and I painted a series of flag pictures after that.”

The Fourth of July, 1916 (The Greatest Display of the American Flag Ever Seen in New York, Climax of the Preparedness Parade in May), the full title of this painting—the second of Hassam’s flag pictures—conflates the annual July 4th celebration with the nationalistic fervor created by the Preparedness Movement.

Creative: Tronvig Group