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  • William Merritt Chase
    Nov 1, 1849 - Oct 25, 1916
  • Sunlight and Shadow, Shinnecock Hills - William Merritt Chase was an American painter known as an exponent of Impressionism and as a teacher. He is also responsible for establishing the Chase School, which later would become Parsons The New School for Design. Chase painted a wide range of subjects, including figures, landscapes and cityscapes, studio interiors, still lifes, and, increasingly later in life, portraits.
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Sunlight and Shadow, Shinnecock Hills
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  • Sunlight and Shadow, Shinnecock Hills

  • William Merritt Chase
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  • circa 1895
    Oil on canvas
    88.9 cm (35 in.) x 101.6 cm (40 in.)
    Private collection.

    This luminous landscape was inspired by the rather flat and ordinary countryside of Shinnecock, Long Island, where William Merritt Chase taught outdoor painting. Chase’s deceptively simple composition testifies to his ability to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. Originally from the Midwest, Chase studied at the National Academy of Design in New York, and then in Europe at the Munich Academy, where artists were encouraged to depict ordinary subject matter, and to handle paint broadly using a limited, dark palette enlivened with small bits of bright color. After further study and travel abroad, Chase returned to New York, where he became a highly visible art figure known for his generosity, eclecticism, and charisma, and for his Impressionist scenes of public parks and his bold portraits. Chase’s most consistent and brilliant body of work is the series of Impressionist landscapes he painted from 1891 to 1902, during summers at Shinnecock. This imposing example provides a fresh, seemingly spontaneous interpretation of the movement of clouds and sunlight and their effects on the coastal landscape below. Sandwiched in between the scraggly clumps of dune grass, heather, and sky are pink dunes highlighted by a streak of red, and a sliver of sea dotted with white boats.

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Other paintings by William Merritt Chase:

The Bayberry Bush (Chase Homestead: Shinnecock Hills)
The Bayberry Bush (Chase Homestead: Shinnecock Hills)
A Study (The Artist's Wife)
A Study (The Artist's Wife)
The Blue Kimono (Girl in Blue Kimono)
The Blue Kimono (Girl in Blue Kimono)
William Merritt ChaseWilliam Merritt Chase was born in Ninevah, Indiana. He studied in Indianapolis, then (in 1869) went to New York and studied briefly at the National Academy of Design. In 1872, after working for two years as a still life painter in St. Louis, several leading citizens and art patrons sponsored a five year trip to Munich where he was greatly influenced by the style of the Munich Artists. Upon his return to New York in 1878 he opened his Tenth Street Studio where he developed a style more vibrant and brightly colored, finding in Impressionism a means of conveying the emotion in both landscapes and city scenes. He did most of his later work in and around New York City, producing both urban and pastoral studies, which were realistically portrayed, yet infused with nuances of light, color, and brushwork, and conveyed the subjectivity of his interpretations. Such were the artistic styles and intentions of Chase; he considered himself a realist, but felt that Impressionistic techniques provided a means of expressing emotions - which are a part of the artists' reality.

Chase was a member of the Ten (Ten American Painters), but also devoted much of his time to teaching, first at his New York studio, than at the Students League. He also taught at his summer home in Shinnecock, Long Island, at the Chase School (which he founded), and later at the New York School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His students included Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth , Edward Hopper , Georgia O'Keeffe , and Charles Sheeler. His achievements as an artist and teacher reflect the impact of the Impressionist movement in American culture; Chase not only pursued artistic innovation, but also brought progress to academic institutions of art. He died in New York in 1916.