Frederick Childe Hassam was born in Dorchester (Massachusetts, USA) on October 17, 1859. Hassam left high school before his graduation and started working for a wood engraver. He attended drawing classes at the Lowell Institute, and became a member of the Boston Art Club. He began his artistic career as an illustrator and watercolorist. By 1882 Hassam had his first solo exhibition of watercolors. The following year he was convinced by his friend Celia Thaxter to drop his first name and thereafter was known as 'Childe Hassam'.
Hassam went to Paris in 1886 to study figure drawing and painting at the Académie Julian. He studied under Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. But he considered the education he received there superfluous. The art he was exposed to in the city's museums and galleries, especially the works of the Impressionists, had a greater influence on Hassam's work.
He settled in New York City in 1889. Scenes of the city were common in his work. He was the leader of the Ten American Painters group who seceded from the Society of American Artists in 1898.
He died on August 27, 1935 in East Hampton, New York.