Tuesday, November 11, 2014


  • Biography - National Gallery of Art


    William Merritt Chase was born in Williamsburg (later Ninevah), Indiana, in 1849, the oldest of six children. When he was twelve, the family moved to Indianapolis. His father hoped that he would follow him into the women's shoe business, but Chase, who said "the desire to draw was born in me," resisted his father's commercial ambitions for his own artistic ones. In 1867 he began his training with Barton S. Hays, followed two years later with study at the National Academy of Design in New York under Lemuel P. Wilmarth.

    In 1871 Chase moved to Saint Louis, where he painted still lifes professionally. He attracted the attention of local patrons, who, in the fall of 1872, offered to send him abroad. At the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he received his most decisive training, Chase was one of the many Americans, including Frank Duveneck and later John Twachtman, studying there.

    After an extended visit to Venice with Duveneck and Twachtman in 1878, Chase returned to New York, where he began teaching at the Art Students League. He devoted much of his time and energy to teaching, not only at the League, but also the Brooklyn Art Association, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Shinnecock Summer School of Art, and the New York School of Art the last two of which he founded and was the most celebrated teacher of his time.

    As a leader of the insurgent younger painters who challenged the authority of the National Academy of Design, he was a founding member of the Society of American Artists and, in 1880, was elected its president. His large, sumptuously decorated studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building, which he took soon after his return to New York, was 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 artist's calling.

    In 1886 he married Alice Gerson, who was frequently his model, as were their many children. Chase painted a wide range of subjects, including figures, landscapes and cityscapes, studio interiors, still lifes, and, increasingly later in life, portraits, and he worked with equal brilliance in oil and pastel. Chase died in New York City in 1916.

    Biography - Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York

    A leading American impressionist and respected art instructor, William Merritt Chase was responsible for pioneering the plein-air movement in the United States.

    By Chelsea DeLay 

    I. Biography
    II. Chronology
    III. Collections
    IV. Notes 

    V. Suggested Resources

    I. Biography

    William Merritt Chase was born in the small town of Williamsburg, Indiana, on November 1, 1849. After his family moved to Indianapolis in 1861, the young teenager spent several years working as a salesman in his father’s store, David H. Chase Boots Wholesale and Retail.(1) When it became clear that Chase’s interest in drawing overshadowed any possibility of working in retail, his exasperated parents relented and allowed him to train under the self-taught painters Barton S. Hays and Jacob Cox. At the age of eighteen, Chase and a friend briefly enlisted in the Navy Apprentice program, yet after only three months of being assigned to the USS Vermont and USS Portsmouth, Chase sent a letter to his father asking to arrange his discharge.(2)
    When the two arrived back to Indianapolis, a room in the family home was given to Chase to use as his studio where he resumed lessons with Hays and Cox. However, his former instructors soon realized that Chase’s artistic abilities had matured beyond what they could teach him; they encouraged the young artist to continue his education under the instruction of their colleague, Joseph O. Eaton, a professor at the National Academy of Design. An eager student, Chase moved to New York City in 1869 and enrolled in the school’s fall session, along with classmates Julian Alden Weir and Albert Pinkham Ryder. The next year Chase was faced with a difficult reality when his father’s business folded—left without his father’s financial support, he earned money to support himself by painting fruit and flower still lifes and portraits in Yonkers, New York.(3)
    Chase experienced mild success selling his work on the competitive New York art market, but recognized that the Midwest possessed a greater potential for offering better commissions. After his father went out of business, the Chase family relocated to Missouri, and by the fall of 1870 Chase had reunited with them in St. Louis and established a studio. He won two awards at the 11th St. Louis Fair in 1871, and his work caught the attention of local businessmen and art patrons; one banker described his perception of the twenty-one-year-old artist, stating, “There is a young man here who paints so well that I dare not tell him how good he is.”(4) Several of these wealthy merchants knew of Chase’s strong desire to continue his education abroad, and recognizing his artistic potential, they offered him a two-year stipend to study at the Royal Academy in Munich.
    Chase left for Europe in 1872 and would not return to the United States until 1878. During these six years abroad, he painted with the dark colors and somber tones typical of the Munich School, and developed an immense passion for collecting art. When he returned to New York City, he occupied the former studio of Albert Bierstadt in the famous Tenth Street Studio Building, which he quickly filled with paintings and objects from his travels. Chase’s grand studio developed an impressive reputation: it was described as “the finest studio in this city, if not the whole country”, “one of the most remarkable ateliers possessed by any artist”, “one of the most celebrated and bewildering museum-studios in New York”, and distinguished as “…one of the sights that artists and students, coming to New York, desire to see.”(5)
    His teaching career began when he accepted a position at the Art Students League in 1878; over the next thirty-seven years, Chase established a reputation as the nation’s leading art instructor while teaching at The Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Art School, New York School of Art, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Determined to create a truly American school of art, Chase founded the Shinnecock Hills Summer School, the country’s first plein-air school, on the east end of Long Island in 1891, and five years later opened the Chase School of Art. As America’s foremost art instructor, his pupils included artists which would become some of the most important of the twentieth century, such as Gifford Beal, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Guy Pène du Bois, Charles Sheeler, and Joseph Stella.
    Chase’s sphere of artistic influence expanded beyond his teaching career and carried over into several artist organizations: he was an active member of the Tile Club and served as the president of the Society of American Artists from 1885 to 1895; The National Academy of Design elected him associate membership in 1888, and full membership two years later; and he also was a founding member of both the Society of Painters in Pastel and the National Association of Portrait Painters.
    Just before the turn of the century, Chase’s style took on a more impressionist approach that was well suited to his penchant for painting en plein air. His impressive Long Island landscapes, painted primarily at the Shinnecock Hills Summer School, were rendered with a brighter palette and demonstrated a mastery of light effects that garnered a positive response from art critics. In 1902, his reputation as a leading American impressionist was cemented in history when he was invited to join The Ten, a group of New York- and Boston-based impressionist painters that included Childe Hassam, Julian Alden Weir, Robert Reid, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Frank Weston Benson, Edmund C. Tarbell, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Joseph DeCamp, and Edward Emerson Simmons.
    Chase’s fame continued to rise during the later years of his career as he exhibited work at the Boston Art Club, Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Academy of Design, National Art Club, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. One year after Chase’s 1916 death,, a memorial exhibition was held in his honor at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His works are widely regarded as some of the best examples of American Impressionism and are included in the permanent collections of respected institutions, including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Texas; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Department of the Interior Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The White House, Washington, D.C. 

    II. Chronology

    1849 Born in Williamsburg, Indiana, on November 1
    1861 The Chase family moves to Indianapolis
    1867 Enlists in the Navy Apprentice program and travels to Philadelphia on July 22; after three months working on the USS Vermont and the USS Portsmouth, he returns to Indiana
    1869 Moves to New York City and enrolls at the National Academy of Design, studies with Julian Alden Weir and Albert Pinkham Ryder
    Travels briefly to Indianapolis, Indiana
    1870 Visits family, whom has relocated to St. Louis, Missouri; shares studio with James W. Pattison in Missouri
    1871 Receives two awards at the 11th St. Louis Fair
    Accepts a two-year stipend for two years’ study in Europe offered by a group of St. Louis businessmen
    1872 Arrives in Europe, spends the summer in London and Paris
    Enrolls at Munich’s Royal Academy, rooms with Frank Duveneck
    1877 Travels to Venice with Duveneck and John Henry Twachtman
    1878 Returns to New York after six years abroad, accepts teaching position at the Art Students League
    Occupies Albert Bierstadt’s old studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building
    Exhibits work at the inaugural exhibition of Society of American Artists
    Joins the Tile Club
    1879 Elected to the Society of American Artists
    Organizes the Tile Club’s famous barge trip up the Hudson River
    Joins the American Water-Color Society
    1880 Elected president of the Society of American Artists
    1881 Visits Antwerp and Madrid
    Meets Carolus-Duran, John Singer Sargent, and Alfred Stevens while in Paris
    Returns to New York and goes on the Tile Club’s Long Island trip
    1882 Travels to Antwerp with James Carroll Beckwith and Robert Blum
    Visits Sargent in Paris
    Spends five weeks in Madrid with Blum; they work together on illustrations for Scribner’s
    Becomes a founding member of Society of Painters in Pastel
    1883 Summers in Europe
    1884 Spends summer with Blum in Holland
    Exhibits with Belgian secessionist group Les Vingt
    1885 Travels to Antwerp with James Abbott McNeill Whistler
    Resumes teaching at the Art Students League
    Elected president of Society of American Artists, holds position until 1895
    1886 Marries Alice Gerson
    First solo exhibition at the Boston Art Club, presents 133 works withgreat success
    1887 First child, Alice, born February 9
    Teaches at the Brooklyn Art Association
    1888 Elected Associate of the National Academy of Design
    1889 Second daughter, Koto, born January 5
    1890 Son, William Merritt Chase Jr., born June 5
    Elected Academician of the National Academy of Design
    1891 Founds Shinnecock Hills Summer School
    William Merritt Chase Jr. dies
    Third daughter, Dorothy, born August 24
    1891–94 Teaches at the Brooklyn Art Association
    1892 Chase family spends the summer at their Shinnecock home, a tradition continued through 1916
    1893 Fourth daughter, Hazel, born August 2
    Exhibits work at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois; sits on the committee of judges
    1894 Fifth daughter, Helen, born
    1895 Closes studio in Tenth Street Studio Building
    1896 Spends six months in Europe; teaches in Madrid
    Begins teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
    Opens Chase School of Art in New York, which would become Parsons The New School for Design
    1897 Takes leave of absence from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to teach at The Art Institute of Chicago
    1898 Resigns from administrative position at the Chase School of Art, which is renamed the New York School of Art
    Second son, Robert Stewart Chase, born December 19
    1896–1913 Moves to Philadelphia, teaches at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts until 1909; continues to teach privately until 1913
    1901 Third son, Roland Dana Chase, born November 19
    Receives gold medals at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo
    1902 Closes Shinnecock School
    Becomes a charter member of the Society of American Portrait Painters
    Joins The Ten, assumes the vacant spot left after Twachtman dies
    1903 Teaches summer classes in Holland
    1904 Teaches summer classes in London
    Sixth daughter, Mary, born February 2
    1905 Teaches summer classes in Madrid
    1907 Resigns from the New York School of Art due to long-term dispute with Robert Henri
    Resumes teaching at the Art Students League
    1907, 1910–11 Teaches summer classes in Italy
    1908 Elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
    Receives knighthood in Order of Saint Michael from the prince regent of Bavaria
    1909 Leaves teaching position at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
    1910 The National Arts Club holds retrospective of 142 works
    Resigns from teaching position at the Art Students League
    Awarded the Grand Prize at the Exposición Internacional del Centenario in Buenos Aires
    1912 Teaches summer classes in Bruges
    Awarded the Proctor Prize by the National Academy of Design
    Becomes a founding member of the National Association of Portrait Painters
    1913 Teaches last summer class abroad in Venice, Italy
    1914 Teaches summer class in Carmel, California
    1915 An entire gallery is dedicated to his work at the Panama-Pacific Exposition
    1916 Passes away in New York City, buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York
    1917 The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds a memorial exhibition in his honor
    Wife Alice Gerson Chase auctions off family-held works at American Art Galleries; the sale realizes $60,151.50

    IV. Exhibitions 

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    1871–1918 National Academy of Design, New York, 1912, Proctor Prize
    1873 Royal Academy, Munich, Germany, bronze medal
    1876 Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, medal
    1876, 1879, 1881–84, 1886, 1901–9 Boston Art Club, Massachusetts, 1886, solo exhibition
    1877–81, 1884, 1892, 1912 Brooklyn Art Association, New York
    1878 Society of American Artists, New York, New York
    1879–1917 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania, 1895, gold medal; 1901, Temple Gold Medal
    1881–3, 1889 Paris Salon, France, 1881, honorable mention; 1889, medal
    1883 Munich, Germany, prize
    1884 Society of Painters in Pastel, New York, New York
    Society of American Artists, New York, New York
    1888 Society of Painters in Pastel
    1889 Chicago Interstate Industrial Exhibition, Illinois
    Paris Exposition Universelle, France, silver medal
    1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois
    1894 Cleveland Art Association, Ohio, prize
    1895 Society of American Artists, New York, New York, prize
    1900 Paris Exposition, France, gold medal
    1901 Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, gold medal
    1902 Charleston Exposition, South Carolina, gold medal
    1903 M. Knoedler, New York, New York, solo exhibition
    1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Louisiana, gold medal
    1905 McClees Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, solo exhibition
    1907–16 Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.
    1909 Herron Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana, traveling exhibition
    1910 National Arts Club, New York, New York, retrospective
    1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, California, prize
    1917 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, memorial exhibition
    1983 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York New York
    Henry Art Gallery-University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, retrospective
    1984 Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York
    1987–88 National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, traveling exhibition
    1995 Spanierman Gallery, New York, New York, retrospective

    IV. Notes

    1. Barbara Dayer Gallati, William Merritt Chase, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1995), 12.
    2. Keith L. Bryant Jr., “Genteel Bohemian from Indiana: The Boyhood of William Merritt Chase,” Indiana Magazine of History 81 (March 1985), 29.
    3. Ibid., 35
    4. Ibid., 40
    5. Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., “William Merritt Chase’s Tenth Street Studio," Archives of American Art Journal 16, no. 2 (1976): 2–3. 

    V. Suggested Resources

    1. Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564–1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Vol. 1, A–F. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1999.
    2. Gallati, Barbara Dayer. William Merritt Chase. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1995.
    3. Ness, June L. “William Merritt Chase and the Shinnecock Summer Art School,” Archives of American Art Journal 13, no. 3 (1973), 8–12.
    4. Pisano, Ronald G. A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase 1849–1916. Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1983.
    5. Pisano, Ronald G. The Students of William Merritt Chase. Huntington: Heckscher Museum, 1973.
    6. Pisano, Ronald G. William Merritt Chase: Portraits in Oil. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.


    Sotheby's November 20 2014

    1849 - 1916

    Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,500,000

    ALICE DIEUDONNÉE CHASE, SHINNECOCK HILLS  Estimate 300,000 — 500,000

    Christie’s 19 November 2014

    $1,000,000 - $1,500,000

    Christie’s NOVEMBER 30, 2011

    Portrait of a Lady by William Merritt Chase (estimate: $250,000-350,000), depicts Mrs. Elsie Reeves Fenimore Johnson, wife of the successful Philadelphia-area inventor and founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company, Eldridge Reeves Johnson. The small dog peeking around the corner of her chair is perhaps a sly reference to the company’s famous advertising mascot: a dog listening to a Victrola.

    Sotheby's October 3, 2013

    1849 - 1916
    Estimate 30,000 — 40,000

    Sotheby's 22 MAY 2013

    1849 - 1916


    Estimate 120,000 — 180,000

    Sotheby's  22 MAY 2008 



Estimate   1,500,000 — 2,500,000 Lot Sold   6,649,000



Estimate 40,000 — 60,000 LOT SOLD. 104,500 

Christie's 2010




Christie’s December 1, 2010

William Merritt Chase

Price Realized$824,000 




Christie's 2000

Christie's 1999


  • WILLIAM MERRITT CHASE (1849-1916) 
  • PR.$244,500

  • Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York

    William Merritt Chase (1849–1916)
    The Red Roofs of Haarlem (Old Dutch Houses of Haarlem; A Street in Holland), ca. 1903
    Oil on canvas
    12 1/16 x 10⅛ inches
    Signed lower left: WM. M ∙ Chase.

    Heather James Fine Art

    William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)
    Portrait of a Lady in a White Dress
    Signed lower right, "Wm. M. Chase (J.r.)." Inscribed lower right, "To my friend Miss. Edith Newbold."
    oil on canvas
    24 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.
    c. 1892

    William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was an American Impressionist painter. Chase worked in a variety of media, however he is best known for his painted portraits. His sitters included some of the most important men and women of his time in addition to his own family.

    The present painting is most likely a portrait of Edith Newbold, to whom it is signed. According to the scholar Ronald Pisano, it is possible that Miss Newbold served as a model for Chase and was given the painting as a gesture of his gratitude.

    Edith Newbold was a supervisor at the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art in Southhampton, New York, where Chase was director from 1891-1902. There is a dedication plaque in the Chase Archives at the Parrish Art Museum inscribed to her, "with gratitude and admiration of the Shinnecock Art Club Christmas 1892." The plaque is signed by fifty-two individuals associated with Chase’s school, including one Sarah Newbold, who may have been related to the sitter.

    Shinnecock was the first major school of plein air painting in America, supported by the Carnegie, Whitney, Astor, and Vanderbilt families, who had summer homes nearby. Chase taught plein air and portrait painting there, where he may have painted this portrait. The work has all of the immediacy, spontaneity, and verve of Chase's demonstration pieces, and was likely done in a single sitting to illustrate his painting technique to his students.