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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Historical Markers > Find a Marker > William Merritt Chase William Merritt Chase

 

Location: 7784 S. Georgetown Rd., Nineveh, IN 46164 (Johnson County, Indiana)

Installed 2010 Indiana Historical Bureau and Nineveh Heritage Committee

ID# : 41.2010.1

Text

Prolific artist who helped develop and promote a style internationally recognized as distinctly American.i Born 1849 near here;ii studied art in Indianapolis, New York, and Munich. iii Returned to New York in 1878;iv opened lavish Tenth Street Studio where he painted, exhibited and sold works, gave private lessons, and hosted cultural events. v

Worked in many styles and media including oil, watercolor, and pastels;vi labeled as an "American Impressionist."vii Taught male and female students mainly on East Coast and in Europe; many became important artists.viii Active in influential art organizations;ix helped establish Shinnecock Summer School of Art and Chase School of Art. x Died 1916.xi

Annotations

[i] Chase worked to create a style that was distinctly American (as opposed to simply derivative of European styles) by combining media and techniques; appealed to collectors, museums, public to support American artists.

J. Nilsen Laurvik, "William M. Chase - A Retrospective," Metropolitan Magazine, no date (likely 1909), 98-104, Indiana State Library Clippings File; William M. Chase, "The Import of Art: An Interview with Walter Pach," Outlook (July 1910): 441-5, accessed March 12, 2009, GoogleBooks; Clara T. MacChesney, "Ten American Artists Honored," New York Times, August 8, 1915, 42; "William M. Chase, Painter, Is Dead," New York Times, October 26, 1916, 11.

Further information on Chase's importance to and influence on the American art scene during the Gilded Age:

Ronald Pisano, completed by D. Frederick Baker, The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Four Volumes, (New Haven, 2006); Ronald Pisano, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916 (Seattle, 1983); Katherine Metcalf Roof, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase (New York, 1917); Keith Bryant, William Merritt Chase: A Genteel Bohemian (Columbia, Mo., 1991).

[ii] William Merritt Chase was born November 1, 1849 to David and Sarah Chase in Williamsburg, Indiana (which later became Nineveh).

U.S. Bureau of the Census, Seventh Census (1850), Schedule 1, Population, Nineveh, Johnson County, Indiana, p. 143, accessed November 10, 2008, AncestryLibrary.com; "William Merritt Chase," U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1905 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1372), General Records of the Department of State, National Archives, Washington D.C., accessed February 2, 2009, AncestryLibrary.com; Photograph of Gravestone of William Merritt Chase and Alice Gerson Chase, accessed April 3, 2009, www.findagrave.com; "W.M. Chase, the Noted Artist, Five of Whose Pictures Are at Herron Institute, is Living Proof that Good Does Come Out of Brown County," Indianapolis News, December 15, 1906, 3.

[iii] In Indianapolis Chase studied painting with Indiana artist Barton S. Hays. In New York Chase took classes at the National Academy of Design. In the fall of 1872, Chase began attending the Royal Academy in Munich.

"The Art in America," New York Times, June 9, 1876, 1, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Society of American Artists," New York Times, March 7, 1878, 4, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Literary Notes," New York Times, August 17, 1878, 3, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Great Artist's Struggle," Indianapolis News, January 14, 1899, 6; Indianapolis News, December 15, 1906, 3; "William M. Chase Is Dead in New York Home," Indianapolis News, October 26, 1916, 15; Frank J. Howell, "Recalls Early Days of William M. Chase," Indianapolis News, December 5, 1916, 11.

Further information on Chase's student years:

Ronald Pisano, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916 (Seattle, 1983); Katherine Metcalf Roof, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase (New York, 1917); S. G. W. Benjamin, Our American Artists (Boston, 1879); J. Walker McSpadden, Famous Painters of America (New York, 1907); Keith L. Bryant Jr., "Genteel Bohemian from Indiana: The Boyhood of William Merritt Chase," Indiana Magazine of History, 81 (March 1985): 14-47.

[iv] Chase returned to New York and began teaching painting at the Art Students League in the fall of 1878.

New York Times , August 17, 1878, 3; Carroll Beckwith, "A Great American Painter," New York Times, October 29, 1916, E2, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; Letter to Chase from his Art Students' League Class, May 21, 1912, reel N69-137, in Chase Papers, Archives of American Art, cited by Keith L. Bryant, Jr., William Merritt Chase: A Genteel Bohemian (Columbia, MO, 1991), 212; Diary of James Carroll Beckwith, cited by Pisano, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 41.

[v] Sometime in 1878, Chase acquired a large, highly desirable, centrally located studio on Tenth Street in New York City, which was furnished and opened in 1879.

Catalogue of the Thomas B. Clarke Collection of American Pictures, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia, 1891), 26-7; John Moran, "Studio-Life in New York," The Art Journal, 5 (1879), reprinted in Nicolai Cikovsky, "William Merritt Chase's Tenth Street Studio," Archives of American Art Journal, 16 (1976): 2-14, accessed March 2, 2009, JSTOR.

Further information on Chase's Tenth Street Studio:

Garnett McCoy, "Visits, Parties, and Cats in the Hall: 'The Tenth Street Studio Building and Its Inmates in the Nineteenth Century,'" American Art Journal, 6 (January 1966): 1-8, accessed November 6, 2009, JSTOR.

[vi] Chase worked in many styles and media including oil, watercolor, and pastels.

"The Painters in Pastel," New York Times, March 17, 1884, 5; "Pictures by Wm. M. Chase," New York Times, March 2, 1887, 4; "Professors of Pastels," New York Times, May 5, 1888, 4, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest;Catalogue of the Thomas B. Clarke Collection of American Pictures, 26-7; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition of Paintings by William M. Chase (Catalog) (New York, 1917), xxi-xxii, accessed June 4, 2009, GoogleBooks).

Images of Chase's work in various media:

William Merritt Chase: The Complete Works , accessed August 11, 2009, www.william-merritt-chase.org.

[vii] Despite Chase's breadth of techniques and styles, most museums, art encyclopedias, and textbooks have categorized him as an "American Impressionist;" He was a member of The Ten American Painters, an influential group of American impressionists (see footnote 9).

Perriton Maxwell, "William Chase, Artist, Wit, and Philosopher," Public Opinion, 27 (November 23, 1899): 659-60, abstracted from the (Philadelphia) Saturday Evening Post, accessed March 10, 2009, GoogleBooks);Catalogue of the Thomas B. Clarke Collection of American Pictures, 26-7; J. Nilsen Laurvik, "William M. Chase - A Retrospective," Metropolitan Magazine, no date (likely 1909), 98-104, Indiana State Library Clippings File; William Howe Downes, "William Merritt Chase, A Typical American Artist," The International Studio, 39 (December 1909), 29-36; Katherine M. Roof, "William Merritt Chase: His Art and His Influence," The International Studio, 60 (February 1917): 105-111; Parrish Art Museum, William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916: A Retrospective Exhibition (New York, 1957).

Further information on Chase's technique and style:

Ronald Pisano, William Merritt Chase: Master of American Impressionism, (Spanierman Gallery, New York, N.Y.), 1994; Ronald Pisano, completed by D. Frederick Baker, The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Four Volumes, (New Haven, 2006); Ronald Pisano, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916 (Seattle, 1983); Barbara Dayer Gallati, "William Merritt Chase and the French Connection," Magazine Antiques (July 2000), 74, accessed April 7, 2009, Gale Cengage Learning; Barbara Weinberg, "William Merritt Chase and the American Taste for Spanish Painting," Magazine Antiques (April 2003), accessed March 24, 2009, findarticles.com.

Examples of Chase's classification as an "American Impressionist":

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, www.metmuseum.org; National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., www.nga.gov; Indianapolis Museum of Art, www.imamuseum.org.

[viii] Chase taught private classes in his studio, summer classes in Europe, and in several prominent schools, notably the Art Student's League and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Chase encouraged his female students to become serious artists, unusual for the time. Notable students include Georgia O'Keefe, Joseph Stella, Edwin Dickinson, Charles Demuth, and Edward Hopper.

Sue M. Ketchum, "A Hoosier Painter," Indianapolis News, February 21, 1888, 1; "Art Notes," New York Times, July 9, 1893, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Current News of the Fine Arts," New York Times, October 2, 1894, 4, accessed June 18, 2009, ProQuest; "The Brooklyn Art School's Reception," New York Times, December 23, 1894, 12, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Here and There,"New York Times, July 23, 1898, BR491, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest); "'Get Together,' Says Mr. Chase to Fellow-Artists," New York Times, May 21, 1905, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; Margaret Cooper White, Truth, (July, 1900), n.p., Indiana State Library Clippings File; New York Times, August 8, 1915, 42; Frances Lauderback, "Notes from Talks by William M. Chase, Summer Class, Carmel-By-The-Sea, California: Memoranda from a Student's Note Book," The American Magazine of Art, 8, no. 11 (September 1917): 432-8, accessed March 12, 2009, Google Books; David Shirey, "Art with Link to L.I. Shown," New York Times, November 25, 1973, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; Letter from Georgia O'Keeffe to Ronald Pisano, footnote six of Pisano, William Merritt Chase (New York, 1983), n.p.

[ix] Chase was a prominent member of many art organizations including the Tile Club, the Society of American Artists, the National Academy of Design, the Painters in Pastels, and The Ten American Painters.

"Varnishing Day," New York Times, March 4, 1878, 4, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; New York Times, March 7, 1878, 4; New York Times, April 1, 1878, 5; "Article 3 - No Title," New York Times, April 14, 1881, 8, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Art Notes, New York Times, January 15, 1882, 4, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest); "Art Notes," New York Times, June 12, 1882, 3, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "A Prize for an Artist," New York Times, May 5, 1887, 8, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "In the Art World," New York Times, January 15, 1898, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "The Painters in Pastel," New York Times, March 17, 1884, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest); New York Times, January 15, 1898; Charles De Kay, "The Society of Ten and the Other Society," New York Times, April 16, 1905, X8, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; New York Times, May 21, 1905, SM3; W. MacKay Laffan, "The Tile Club at Work," Scribner's Monthly, vol. 17, no. 33 (January 1879), 3402-3; James William Pattison, "William Merritt Chase, N.A.," House Beautiful, 25 (February, 1909): 49-56, Indiana State Library Clippings File.

Further information on Chase's involvement with art organizations:

Ronald Pisano, The Tile Club and the Aesthetic Movement in America (New York, 1999); Ronald Pisano,A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916 (Seattle, 1983); Katherine Metcalf Roof, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase (New York, 1917); J. Walker McSpadden, Famous Painters of America (New York, 1907); Keith Bryant, William Merritt Chase: A Genteel Bohemian (Columbia, Mo., 1991); and Erin Brockett, "The Ten American Painters," Antiques & Fine Art Magazine, accessed June 11, 2009, www.antiquesandfineart.com.

[x] In 1891, Chase began instructing at the brand-new Shinnecock Summer School of Art, which he helped to found and organize. He continued to teach at Shinnecock every summer until 1902. "Shinnecock Hills Art School," New York Times, February 14, 1891, 4, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; "Brooklyn Institute Announcements," New York Times, May 22, 1892, 16, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest); John Gilmer Speed, "An Artist's Summer Vacation," Harpers New Monthly Magazine, 87 (June, 1893): 3-14, accessed June 18, 2009, GoogleBooks); June L. Ness, "William Merritt Chase and the Shinnecock Summer Art School," American Art Journal, 13 (1973): 8-12, accessed March 2, 2009, JSTOR); Katherine Cameron, "The South Fork: Southhampton, Shinnecock Hills and William Merritt Chase," The Artist as Teacher: William Merritt Chase and Irving Wiles (New York, 1994).

In 1896, he founded The Chase School of Art in New York City. In 1898, the school was renamed, the New York School of Art. Chase remained its most well-known teacher until leaving in 1907. In 2005 the school became Parsons New School for Design.

"Training Methods in Art Schools," New York Times, February 11, 1899, BR82, accessed February 4, 2009, ProQuest; New York Times, November 21, 1907, 3; New York Times, August 26, 1909, 14; "Wm. Chase Forced Out of New York Art School: Triumph for the 'New Movement' Led by Robert Henri," New York American, November 20, 1907, 3, cited by Kimberly Orcutt, "Painterly Controversy: William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri," Antiques and Fine Art Magazine, (Spring 2007), 180-184, accessed June 11, 2009, www.antiquesandfineart.com); White, n.p.; Roof, 170-1; Parsons New School for Design, accessed June 11, 2009, www.newschool.edu/parsons.

[xi] William Merritt Chase died at home New York City on October 25, 1916.

New York Times, October 26, 1916, 11; Indianapolis Star, October 26, 1916, 1; Indianapolis News, October 26, 1916, 6; "William Merritt Chase," The Outlook (November 1916): 536-538.