William Merritt Chase was born in Ninevah, Indiana and studied under Barton Hayes in Indianapolis and then briefly at the National Academy of Design. Due to the interest and generosity of several art patrons, Chase was able to take a five-year trip to Munich, where he studied at the city’s Royal Academy. In 1878, Chase returned to New York City, opened his Tenth Street Studio and developed his signature impressionist style. He was a member of America’s influential group of impressionists known as The Ten, but was also an extremely influential teacher. Chase opened the first summer school of landscape painting at his summer home in Shinnecock, Long Island. He also taught at the Chase School in New York, which he founded, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His students included such famous artists as Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Sheeler.
This lively image reveals the stylistic progression Chase had undergone since he painted William Gurley Munson (58.31). Paris’ facial features are broadly brushed in a freer, more spirited manner than the tight handling of the Munson portrait. However, consistent in both images is Chase’s technique of animating the composition by bathing the forehead of the sitter with stark, bright light. The subject of the portrait, a noted architect, was also a student and friend of Chase. When Chase was in need of money, Paris helped the artist by commissioning portraits of several of his clients. Through his efforts, a bust of Chase was placed in the Pantheon of Painters and Sculptors in the Hall of Remembrance of New York University in 1930.
Ronald G. Pisano. William Merritt Chase: The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documents Work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Vol. 2: Portraits in Oil, New Haven Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0300110210
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