William Merritt Chase (1849 - 1916)
A leading impressionist painter, Chase was also one of the most influential of American art teachers. His students included Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, Marsden Hartley, Joseph Stella and others, but his teachings influenced generations of artists. The Indiana-born Chase studied in Munich, where instructors encouraged his lively, instinctive, boldly-brushed style, and this virtuoso approach would remain a hallmark of his work, instantly recognizable in his portraits and figural works as well as his landscapes and interior scenes. In his role as a teacher, Chase also emphasized a spontaneous technique, instructing students to paint directly from nature or human subjects without extensive preliminary sketching. Though he taught in a number of places, he is perhaps most closely linked with New York's Art Students League as well as with the summer painting school he founded at Shinnecock, Long Island, the first formal outdoor painting school in this country.
Highly proficient in pastel as well as oils, Chase organized with Robert Frederick Blum the American Society of Painters in Pastel, and is viewed as one of the most accomplished artists in this medium. He exhibited with the Ten American Painters, and was held in such high esteem during his lifetime that the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco dedicated an entire gallery to his paintings. In addition to his portraits and figural works, he also painted still lifes and interior views, including those of his studio on Long Island. His many landscape subjects include views of Europe, the Shinnecock Hills and eastern Long Island, Central Park, New York, and Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
Image: William Merritt Chase, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
American Impressionism & Realism - 2 May - 28 July, 2011
American Works on Paper 1880-1930 - 20 October - 19 December, 2009