William Merritt Chase
1849 – 1916

Born in 1849 in Williamsburg, Indiana, William Merritt Chase would become recognized as one of America’s premier impressionist painters.  His first exposure to art training came when his family moved to the city of Indianapolis in 1861.  There he met a local painter, Barton S. Hays, who provided him with private lessons.  In 1869, Chase left for New York City at Hays’ suggestion where he would study at the National Academy of Design.  The year 1871 saw him return to his family, who had by this time moved to St. Louis, Missouri.  Once there, he began to concentrate on still-life painting, but found little success.  In 1872, he left the United States and enrolled in the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany.  Through the Royal Academy he gained an appreciation for the painting style of Dutch and Spanish artists of the seventeenth century.  While in Munich he also became associated with the “Duveneck Boys”, a group of artists who mentored under Frank Duveneck.  Throughout the 1870’s his paintings focused on still lifes, portraits and figurative interiors.

In 1878 a teaching opportunity at the Art Students League in New York City brought him back to the United States from Europe.  During the next decade he would gain interest in pastels, relying less on the more subdued palette he had utilized from his days at the Royal Academy in Munich.  Subsequent trips to Europe in 1881 and 1882 sent him to Spain to study the works of artists such as Diego Valazquez and Mariano Fortuny.  Here he worked en plein-air to capture the scenic views of the Spanish peninsula.  This technique would translate back to his work in the United States where he would continue to capture the essence of outdoor settings with an increasingly distinct impressionistic style.

In addition to the Art Students League in New York, his teaching career included time at the Brooklyn Art Association in 1887 and from 1891-1896 as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1896-1909.  He also founded and taught open air classes at the Shinnecock Summer School of Art near his summer home on Long Island in 1891.  This aspect of his life would prove highly influential, his pupils including well known artists such as Gifford Beal, Guy Pene du Bois, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Alfred Maurer, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Scheeler.  He died in New York City in 1916.

Collections Include:
the Akron Art Museum, Ohio
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute of Arts, Washington D.C.
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

1849 – William Merritt Chase born in Williamsburg, Indiana
1861 – Moves with family to Indianapolis, Indiana where he receives his first artistic training
1869 – Studied at the National Academy of Design in New York
1872 – Enrolls in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich
1878 – Returns to the United States to begin teaching at the Art Students League in New York
1882 – Founds the Society of American Painters in Pastel
1903 – Elected a member of The Ten, an association of prominent Impressionists
1916 – Dies in New York, New York

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