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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Impressionist teacher and artist extraordinaire, William Merritt Chase, now at the Phillips

William Merritt Chase, Portrait of Dora Wheeler, 1882-1883, Cleveland Museum of Art.  A painting of one of his students, this was one Chase's early masterpieces which won an Honorable Mention at the 1883 Paris Salon and a Gold Medal at Munich's Crystal Palace exhibition.
 William Merritt Chase, The Young Orphan, c. 1884, National Academy Museum, New York.  His subject for this painting likely came from the orphan asylum located next door to Chase's Tenth Street Studio in New York.  It's reminiscent of The Artist's Mother by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an artist Chase admired.
 William Merritt Chase, Washing Day - A Backyard Reminiscence of Brooklyn, c. 1887, from the collection of Lilly Endowment, Inc.
 William Merritt Chase, The End of the Season, c. 1884-1885, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum
 William Merritt Chase, I Think I Am Ready Now, c. 1883, private collection
 William Merritt Chase, The Tenth Street Studio, 1880, Saint Louis Art Museum. Chase's well-known studio, filled with what he loved: art, bric-a-brac, people, his Russian hound, and, on one side, there he is.
 William Merritt Chase, Sunlight and Shadow, 1884, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha. Chase painted this in Holland where he resided during the summer at the coastal cottage of his friend and artist, Robert Blum, the man above.  Chase referred to this work as The Tift.  A partially hidden woman lies in the hammock while another one scurries away.  The Triangle?
William Merritt Chase, Self-Portrait in 4th Avenue Studio, 1915-1916, Richmond Art Museum, Indiana, completed the year he died.
William Merritt Chase, Lydia Field Emmet, 1892, Brooklyn Museum, one of his students who became "one of the foremost American woman portrait painters of the late 19th century," according to the wall copy.

All it takes to win a chance for a trip for two to Boston in celebration of the William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) exhibition now at the Phillips Collection, is a brief explanation on social media of your favorite Chase work by September 11, 2016. (See line below for details.)

Artist and teacher of Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Joseph Stella, John Marin, and George Bellows, among many others, William Merritt Chase is honored by the Phillips in the centenary year of his death in this first Chase retrospective in 30 years.

A must for any fan of Impressionism.

The 70 works span 40 years in an enthralling presentation which seems much larger, perhaps because it is easy to lose yourself in the paintings and get carried away.

His obituary in the Washington Times on October 26, 1916 noted his career path followed that of many artists: His father wanted him to be something else. To be like him! A retail merchant, but the son used his father's business supplies, wrapping papers, to draw sketches, and, at age 20 took off from middle America for New York.

About a year later, the ailing family business, now in St. Louis, beckoned Chase to come and help out, and he did.

There, art aficionados recognized his talents and, in exchange for original works, arranged training for him in Europe where he studied for several years in Munich and Italy.

Returning to the U.S. and "representing the new wave of European-educated American talent" (Wikipedia), his "first fame" came with "Keying Up"-The Court Jester (1875) which won a medal at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and which viewers may see at the Phillips.

Chase etched and painted portraits, landscapes, still lifes, urban and domestic scenes using watercolor, oils, pastels, and ink. His subjects included notable persons of the era including his wife, Alice, and their eight children during his "most energetic" period. At Shinnecoke Hills, Long Island, N.Y. he was persuaded to take over an art school where he taught from 1891 to 1902, among many places. (Now his Shinnecoke home and studio are on the National Register of Historic Places.)

His Tenth Street Studio in New York was considered "the most famous artist's studio in America and a virtual manifesto of his and his generation's artistic practices and beliefs, and of the dignity of the artistic calling," according to a biographical sketch at the National Gallery of Art. Several of his works at the Phillips are titled Tenth Street Studio.

Chase established the Chase School, which later became Parsons The New School for Design, and for a decade (1885-1895) he was president of the Society of American Artists.

At the turn of the century he and his rival instructor, Robert Henri, were considered the nation's most important teachers of American artists.

On his death the New York Tribune on Oct. 27, 1916 called him "one of the most useful painters we ever had."  

The Terra Foundation for American Art whose mission is dedicated that of its founder, Daniel J. Terra (1911-1996) who believed "engagement with original works of art could be a transformative experience," has enabled the presentation of the Chase show at the Phillips where the Terra team succeeds!

This is the first Chase exhibition to travel abroad where it will stop in Venice in February at the International Gallery of Modern Art after a tour at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (October, 2016 - January, 2017).

At the show's opening, curator Elsa Smithgall called Chase "a painter's painter."

Catalogues are available in the gift shop.

: William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master

When: Now through September 11, 2016 (except Mondays), 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays, 12-7 p.m. Extended hours until 8:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month for separate ticketed event September 1, "Art and Play," inspired by Chase's art and Karel Appel's (another exhibition currently at the Phillips) with music by Color Palette, food and drink presented in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands. The Thursday events often sell out.

Contest! Enter the Chase Contest at the Phillips by September 11, 2016 for a chance to win a trip for two to Boston. Just mention a favorite Chase work on social media (with certain hash tags) and submit! Easy! See complete details here.

Where: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., N.W. at Q St., Washington, D.C. 20009

Tickets: $12, $10 for students and those over 62, free for members and for children 18 and under.

Metro Station: Dupont Circle (Q Street exit. Turn left and walk one block.)

For more information: 202-387-2151

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