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Artist William Merritt Chase

Apr 11, 2008
William Merritt Chase was born on November 1st, 1849 in Nineveh, Indiana. After joining and leaving the Navy in 1869, he decided to leave Indiana and head off to New York to study art. While there, he studied at The National Academy of Design. In 1870 he left New York to help support his family in St. Louis, he worked as a still-life painter and started to make a name for himself. The wealthy art collectors in St. Louis decided they wanted to expand his talent in Europe and they sponsored a 5 year stay in Munich in return for paintings.

Chase returned back to the United States in 1878 and opened a studio in New York City. He was a member of the Tilers, a group of artists including Winslow Homer, J. Alden Weir and Arthur Quartley. He often painted portraits of his family, his wife Alice and his 8 children.

In 1882, Chase helped found the Society of American Painters in Pastel and created an extraordinary body of work in this medium. From 189l to 1902, he conducted classes in the open-air at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, and it was during this period that some of his most celebrated works were painted, such as "The Fairy Tale," 1892 (Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz) and "The Friendly Call," 1895 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

Aside from painting portraits, William Merritt Chase also liked to paint landscapes. New York City parks and was often the subject for those landscapes, he used vibrant colors. William Chase enjoyed using oil paints to paint these paintings, he also used watercolors, pastels and etchings. His studio was filled with still lifes, portraits, landscapes, and cityscapes.

The portrait of "Lady in Black" is a perfect example of William Merritt Chase's style. It currently hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The brush strokes, although wide, don't hide the intricate details of the woman's face. It's a piece that leaves the viewer wanting more, and often left me wondering what the "Lady in Black" was thinking about.

Chase, who spent his summers in Shinnecock, would often use this setting as a subject "The Chase Homestead at Shinnecock" is a perfect example of his landscape technique.

William Merritt Chase was also famous for his teaching and artistic training. He had a strong following of young students in New York City and was a founding member of The Society of American Artists and in 1880 was elected president. Chase died on October 25, 1916 in New York City.

Chase's students numbered in the thousands; among the better known were Gifford Beal, Guy Péne du Bois, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Alfred Maurer, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Georgia O'Keeffe and Charles Sheeler.

William Merrit Chase's current popularity has been very evident over the last twenty-five years. All major auction houses around the world such as Southeby's and Christie's have seen the prices of Chase's work increase drastically. His continuing popularity and the scarceness of his works has allowed prices to increase significantly. For optimum value, when buying or selling, one should research his best years of painting.
About the Author
Cris Jenson writes about travel, arts, and other topics of interest. Do you own a William Merritt Chase painting, or artwork from another artist? Please visit our web site http://www.newportart.com/William_Merritt_Chase.html and get your artwork appraised.
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