Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Childe Hassam became a professional illustrator in the late 1870s. He attended evening classes at the Boston Art Club, took drawing lessons from William Rimmer at the Lowell Institute, and studied painting with the Munich-trained artist Ignatz Marcel Gaugengigl. By the mid-1880s he had become an accomplished painter, most skillful in atmospheric urban views such as Rainy Day, Boston (1885, The Toledo Museum of Art) and Boston Common at Twilight (1885-86, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Between 1887 and 1889 Hassam studied at the celebrated Académie Julian in Paris and began to work in a fully Impressionist style. He settled in New York following his return to the United States. In the 1890s Impressionism, no longer considered outrageously avant-garde, was extremely popular in America, and Hassam soon established himself as one of its most successful and prolific practitioners.
From 1896 until his death, Hassam enjoyed a cordial relationship with Carnegie Institute. Over the years he exhibited ninety paintings at the prestigious Carnegie Internationals and at the 1910 International was honored with a one-man show. Director of fine arts John Beatty held the artist in great esteem and frequently sought his opinions on artistic matters. Carnegie Institute was the first museum to purchase one of Hassam's paintings, Fifth Avenue in Winter (00.2)(c. 1892). Several years after Hassam's death, his widow donated sixty of his lithographs and etchings to the museum in recognition of its important role in her husband's career.