American artist William Merritt Chase (b. Indiana, 1849–d. New York, 1916), a renowned figure in the international art circles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was a brilliant observer of contemporary life, an innovative painter, and an influential teacher. This retrospective presented on the centennial year of the artist’s death explores the full range of Chase’s multifaceted artistic practice, from striking portraits and still lifes to glorious urban park scenes, landscapes, and interiors. In a career that straddled two continents and two centuries, Chase was, in the words of American art critic Frank Jewett Mather, “a citizen of the world.”
Featuring more than 70 artworks, this exhibition examines the Chase’s achievements spanning his four-decade long career. The exhibition starts with works from his formative years in Munich, where he studied Dutch, Spanish, and French masters, and follows his subsequent career in New York City where he established himself as a tastemaker in his grand Tenth Street Studio. Chase spent summers in Long Island directing the largest plein-air school, and later established the Chase School of Art, all the while exhibiting his work to wide acclaim in both America and Europe. The exhibition also focuses on Chase’s role as a highly influential and devoted teacher, who trained and inspired the next generation of American artists, from Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley to Edward Hopper and Joseph Stella.
The exhibition includes several fine examples of Chase’s pastels to highlight the integral role the medium played within Chase’s oeuvre. A co-founder of the progressive Society of American Painters in Pastel, Chase was a leader in the late 19th-century revival of pastel painting and one of its most innovative practitioners. Throughout his career, Chase experimented with pastel alongside his work in oil, translating the painterly qualities of wet color to the velvety effects of dry pigment.
William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master provides a nuanced understanding of the artist’s vital place within the history of American art and his lasting legacy in the art of our time.
The exhibition is organized by The Phillips Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Venice, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
With the generous support of the Terra Foundation for American Art