William Merritt Chase

U.S. 1849-1916
Mrs. Chase in Pink 29.0415

This painting is a portrait of William Merritt Chase's wife of thirty years, Alice Gerson Chase. As a child, she regularly visited Chase's Tenth Street studio where she and her two sisters modeled for him. Alice continued to be Chase's favorite model throughout their marriage and he frequently devised costumes for her sittings. The painting was in the artist's studio at his death and was the first work to be purchased by the newly formed Friends of Art in 1927. Legendary as a communicator and teacher (of Joseph Stella, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Alfred Maurer, Charles Sheeler, and Edward Hopper) Chase is also known for his championing of French Impressionism and his opposition to cubist modernism. In New York, he created an image as a boulevardier, a "dandy," complete with leashed Russian wolfhounds, cutaway coat, and spats. His image extended to his studio on Tenth Street, which became famous for its entertainments while Chase developed a reputation as a fashionable portraitist and painter of luxurious interiors. As a member of the group "Ten American Painters" (exhibiting together from 1898-1919), Chase helped to solidify an American form of Impressionism along with fellow members Childe Hassam, Julian Alden Weir, and John Twachtman. In 1891, Chase built a new home and studio and began a summer art school on Long Island at Shinnecock producing "impressionist" canvases of the dunes and hills. This was the first important school of plein-air painting in America where Chase stressed the techniques of harmonious color, the play of light, and direct brushstrokes. After the turn of the century, Chase continued mentoring students by taking groups to Europe.




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