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Azaleas, by William Merritt Chase
William Merritt Chase (1 November 1849 – 25 October 1916)
Photo credit: Wikipaintings)

William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase was born in Indiana, but after moving to New York, he started travelling abroad and, among other activities, bought art for American clients.  In France, he studied painting with Lemuel Wilmarth, (see Athenaeum), a student of Jean-Léon Gérôme  (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904), an academicist, and then enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Munich, where he was a student of Alexander Von Wagner and Karl von Piloty.  As a student in Munich, he befriended Walter Shirlaw, Frank Duveneck, and Joseph Frank Currier, whose artwork, Currier’s, he collected.  He travelled to Venice, Italy before returning to the United States in the summer of 1878.  On his return to North-America, he showed Ready for the Ride with the newly formed Society of American Artists, of which he would later serve as president.  He also opened a studio in New York in the Tenth Street Studio Building, where he moved into Albert Bierstadt‘s former studio which he furnished in a rather “flamboyant” manner.

“Chase filled the studio with lavish furniture, decorative objects, stuffed birds, oriental carpets, and exotic musical instruments. The studio served as a focal point for the sophisticated and fashionable members of the New York City art world of the late 19th century.” (The Complete Works)

A Teacher and a Family Man

Chase became an almost unrivalled teacher.  In 1891, he opened the Shinnecock Hills Summer School.  In 1896, he founded the Chase School of Art which became the New York School of Art two years later with Chase staying on as instructor until 1907, but he also taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Among his students was famed artist Georgia O’Keefe, Charles Demuth, and Marsden Hartley.  In his later years, he travelled to various European countries to give summer classes.

Chase married Alice Gerson, his former model, in 1886, and the couple had eight children.  His eldest daughters, Dieudonnée and Dorothy, often posed for their father.  The family owned a townhouse in New York and another property on Long Island.  Chase had a happy family life and died in his New York townhouse.


Pink Azaleas and Chinese Vase
Making her Toilet
Japanese Print
Photo credit: The Complete Works 
(Please click on the images to enlarge them.)


Japanese art spread to several European countries and crossed the Atlantic.  For instance, it had an influence on Americans  James Abbott McNeill Whistler, William Merritt Chase, and Mary Cassatt.  We will look at Japonisme in the art of Mary Cassatt.  I believe she is our best example.

Moreover, a few comments are needed.  Japonisme played a major role in the development of Western art in the second half of the nineteenth century.

However, for the time being, I pause.

* * *

Rachmaninoff‘s Piano Concerto N° 2 in C Minor, Opus 18


Peonies, by W. M. Chase
(Photo credit: The Complete Works)
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)
© Micheline Walker
6 July 2013