William Merritt Chase – American 1849-1916

  William Merritt Chase Self Portrait
Self Portrait,
William Merritt Chase trained in Indianapolis under the portrait painter Barton S. Hays; in New York at the National Academy of Design from 1869 to 1871; and in Munich under Alexander von Wagner, Karl Theodor von Piloty and Wilhelm von Diez at the Königliche Akademie from 1872. There he was encouraged to study the works of the old masters and to adopt a dark palette and free brushwork. He became friends with with Walter Shirlaw, J. Frank Currier, Frederick Dielman, Frank Duveneck and John H. Twachtman. The latter two accompanied him to Venice in 1877.

In 1875 he exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York, and received a medal at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. In 1878 Chase returned to New York to teach at the Arts Students League and he also gave private lessons in his studio. In 1881 he returned to Europe where he met the Belgian painter Alfred Stevens and came in contact with the work of the Impressionists. Their influence is apparent in a work like Sunlight and Shadow (1184; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha) with its light palette.

In 1885 Chase met Whistler in London and they agreed to paint each other's portrait. Only Chase's portrait of Whistler was completed (1885; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Whistler was concerned about its foppish nature and described it as a 'monstrous lampoon'.

William Merritt ChaseWhistler's influence can be seen in Chase's profile portrait of a seated woman, Portrait of Dora Wheeler (1884; Cleveland Museum of Art), and in his full-length female portraits of the late 1880s and early 1890s, eg. Lady in Black (1888; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Whistler's methods of exhibiting his works also influenced Chase who was largely responsible for the exhibition of the Society of American Artists in 1884, which was described as 'a symphony in the key of Chase. Chase was an honorary member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers of which Whistler was its first President.

Octave Maus, the secretary of Les XX, invited Chase to contribute to the group's first exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1884. Whistler was also invited along with William Stott and John Singer Sargent.

Like Whistler, Chase was a talented pastelist (e.g. Back of a Nude, ca 1888, Private Collection). In 1882, along with Robert Frederick Blum, he set up the American Society of Painters in Pastel, a society which held four exhibitions from 1884 to 1890.

In 1891 he founded the Shinnecock Summer School of Art on Long Island where he taught until 1902. He also taught at the Brooklyn Art Association in 1887 and from 1891 to 1895, at the Chase School of Art from 1897 to 1907 and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art from 1896 to 1909. He encouraged his students to work directly from nature and advocated that they paint directly on to the canvas forgoing any initial preparatory sketch. His students included Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Sheeler and Joseph Stella.


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William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master by Elsa Smithgall (Author), Erica Hirshler (Author), Katherine M. Bourguignon (Author), Giovanna Ginex (Author), John Davis (Author), D. Frederick Baker (Foreword) – Hardcover: 248 pages; Publisher: Yale University Press (June 28, 2016)

A century after his death, the breadth and richness of Chase’s career are celebrated in this beautifully illustrated publication. Five essays by prominent scholars of American art offer new insights into Chase’s multi-faceted artistic practice and his position in the international cultural climate at the turn of the 20th century.

William Merritt Chase: Portraits in Oil by Ronald G. Pisano – 320 pages Yale University Press (May 28, 2007) Best Seller

The great American artist William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) completed a wide variety of portraits over his long career. Among his subjects were presidents, businessmen, celebrities, New York luminaries, and members of his family as well as a number of self-portraits. Chase’s ability to capture a likeness was renowned, yet it was his dashing and bravura brushwork that truly set his portraits apart.

This highly anticipated book presents the entire collection of Chase’s known portraits in oil. Each is gorgeously reproduced, and many are published in color for the first time. This is the second of four volumes cataloguing the complete works of William Merritt Chase. The catalogue raisonné project has presented immense challenges, for Chase kept no records at all, and staggering numbers of forgeries of his work appeared soon after he died.

Finding many of his portraits was especially difficult, as no log book of sitters has been located and no other records exist for those works that were not publicly exhibited. Nevertheless, Ronald G. Pisano’s meticulous research has uncovered more than six-hundred portraits in private and public collections. Among the most notable are Chase’s penetrating portrait of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), a commanding portrait of Dora Wheeler (Cleveland Museum of Art), The Feather Fan featuring Chase’s oldest daughter, Alice (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), and a 1908 self-portrait (Uffizi Gallery, Florence).

William Merritt Chase: A Life in Art by Alicia G. Longwell (Author), Maureen C. O'Brien (Contributor) – Hardcover: 96 pages Publisher: GILES (November 18, 2014)

The Parrish Art Museum, on Long Island's East End, holds one of the largest public collections of William Merritt Chase in the United States: over forty paintings and works on paper, and a wealth of archival photographs and documents.

This volume features thirty works from his whole career: early still lifes from Europe, famous New York park scenes and studio works from the 1880s, and landscape paintings and portraits from the 1890s and 1900s. It also includes many family photographs taken during summer spent in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, where Chase founded, and taught at, the Summer School of Art.

William Merritt Chase: Landscapes in Oil (Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work By William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) Ronald G. Pisano (Author), Carolyn K. Lane (Author) – Hardcover: 192 pages Yale University Press (April 21, 2009)

This third volume in a four-part catalogue raisonné on Chase covers Chase's paintings of the 1880s and early 1890s and reproduces a variety of paintings (49 in black and white, 209 in color) that together give marvelous insight into his exemplary depiction of light and shadow. Much of his work shows various vantages of Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, and surrounding environs in New York; however, Chase's trips to Munich, Spain, and Italy helped the progression of his skills, and some work done overseas is included. Pisano, who was curator of the Heckscher Museum of Art, painstakingly researched documentation of Chase's works to create this complete retrospective but unfortunately passed away before the project was completed; this volume was finished by Ph.D. candidate Carolyn K. Lane. One cannot help but wonder, in spite of the thoroughness of representation and documentation of paintings, if Pisano would have added essays or other writings to flesh out Chase as a man and artist. Even without extra text, this volume serves a valuable purpose for scholars of art and art history.—Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

William Merritt Chase: Modern American Landscapes, 1886-1890 by Barbara Dayer Gallati, Brooklyn Museum of art, Arnold L. Lehman (Introduction) – Hardcover, 192 pages (May 2000) Harry N Abrams

Hailed early on as a genius destined to transform American art, William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) put his innovative stamp on American painting during a five-year span when he suddenly changed his technique and subject matter and began producing gorgeous, sun-dappled Impressionist views of New York parks and coastlines-the first Impressionist works ever painted of American landscapes.

This volume-which accompanies an exhibition of Chase's urban landscapes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the first in-depth study of this pivotal period in Chase's career. Armed with new discoveries about the life of the man who became known as "the artistic interpreter of Central Park and Prospect Park," the author shows how Chase turned to his urban scenes to heed the nationalist call of his critics. With splendid illustrations that evoke nostalgia for a now-gone era, this is an impressive work of scholarship-and a book of great appeal for art lovers.

William Merritt Chase by Ronald G. Pisano – Watson-Guptill Pubns,1986


The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase by William Merritt Chase, Katharine Metcalf Roof – Paperback: 440 pages; Publisher: Nabu Press (2010)


Circling Chase - the Art and Influence of William Merritt Chase and the Pursuit of Modernity by Nicole Amoroso – Paperback Publisher: Avery Galleries (2008)


Leading Spirit in American art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916 by Ronald G Pisano – Unknown Binding: 203 pages Publisher: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington (1983)

69 color and 66 duotone illustrations, 204 pages

William Merritt Chase: Still Lifes, Interiors, Figures, Copies of Old Masters, and Drawings ~ Ronald G. Pisano (Author) – Hardcover: 256 pages Yale University Press (June 15, 2010)

This is the fourth and final volume in the complete catalogue of the work of William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). Included in this handsome book are interiors, primarily paintings of his renowned Tenth Street Studio, and still life paintings, in particular his well-known depictions of fish, which were sought after by major collectors and museums at the time they were painted. In addition, the catalogue contains his figure works, copies of paintings by Old Masters including Diego Velázquez, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt van Rijn, and a selection of drawings. Finally, the book features a complete list of auction records during Chase’s lifetime.

Through painstaking care and research, this volume uncovers previously unattributed and unidentified works by Chase, presenting new revelations and serving as a fitting capstone to this ambitious publishing project.

William Merritt Chase: Paintings in Pastel, Monotypes, Painted Tiles and Ceramic Plates, Watercolors, and Prints (The complete catalogue of known and documented ... by William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916, Vol. 1) – Hardcover: 160 pages Yale University Press (May 31, 2006)

A perennial favorite of museum visitors, the works of William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) embody the quintessential characteristics of American Impressionism: outdoor landscapes, a colorful palette, and an energetic brushstroke. He was also a portrait painter of the first rank, a master of still life, a renowned teacher, and a leader of artists’ societies.

This gorgeous book, the first of a four-volume definitive catalogue, features Chase’s stunning paintings in pastel, which constitute a major and previously understudied body of work by the artist; monotypes; painted tiles and plates; watercolors; and prints. Reconstructing Chase’s oeuvre is a daunting task, as the artist left few records of any kind, and no documentation of his individual works exists. Furthermore, Chase’s paintings and pastels have been forged in great numbers throughout the years, and many of these works still surface on the art market. Making this long-awaited volume even more valuable is a list of every known exhibition of Chase’s work during the artist’s lifetime, selected examples of major post-1917 exhibitions, and an essay on Chase’s innovative pastel technique.

Photographs from the William Merritt Chase archives at the Parrish Art Museum by Ronald G Pisano Paperback: 118 pages Publisher: Parrish Art Museum (1992)

The William Merritt Chase Archives at The Parrish Art Museum document the life and art of one of America's most important artists and complement the museum's collection of Chase's art, the largest in the world.

William Merritt Chase: A Genteel Bohemian by Keith L. Bryant – Hardcover, Published by University of Missouri Press (Txt), 1991


William Merritt Chase (Library of American Art) by Barbara Dayer Gallati, William Merritt Chase – Hardcover, 143 pages, Published by Harry N Abrams, 1995


William Merritt Chase at Shinnecock Color, NTSC VHS Release Date: June 20, 2000; Run Time: 25 minutes

Shinnecock, New York, in 1891 was the site of an important development in American art. There, William Merritt Chase established the nation's first outdoor summer school of painting. Chase's works, tours of his house and studio, period photographs, and scenes of Shinnecock's natural beauty tell the story behind Chase's fruitful artistic endeavor.

Summer Afternoons: Landscape Paintings of William Merritt Chase by Ronald G. Pisano – Published by Bulfinch Press, 1993


William Merritt Chase: Summers at Shinnecock 1891-1902 by D. Scott Atkinson – Paperback: 95 pages National Gallery of Art; 1st edition (1987)



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