Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chase 2

I am as usual grateful to the for allowing me the use of their images for this post.

You who are devotees of this blog will know who this guy is. In 1885 on a European trip Chase met Whistler, and they decided to hang out together for a while, long enough to paint each others portraits. That was a common custom then, artists would paint portraits of their friends, in that friends style, as a sort of tribute to them. That is what happened here. Whistlers picture was never finished. Whistler who I wrote about here, was his usual quarrelsome self, his biting, sarcastic and often nasty wit were legendary. Chase was his equal as both a painter and as a wit.

After a painting together for a short while Whistler became so obnoxious that Chase got off a train they were on in Amsterdam and left Whistler aboard. This painting caused a sensation when it was exhibited upon his return to the states, and there was much discussion as to what its worth as a work of art was. Whistler was angered by the portrait and remained insulted. He added Chase to his list of bitter enemies. But Chase did get the better of him, as few ever did. What Oscar Wilde failed to do, Chase did so handsomely that I am telling you about it one hundred and twenty five years later.This triumph of portraiture is at the Met.

Here is another of the many pictures of his studio, which became a gathering place for the artists of the day. Chase was an impressive man usually wearing a top hat and dressed extravagantly. He had a manservant who was dressed in a middle eastern robe and sported a red fez. Chase was a great promoter and one of the finest painters of his day, but his financial condition was often precarious. At one low ebb, he auctioned off the contents of his studio and including his paintings as well. Though heavily advertised, the sale did not go well and his paintings were sold for a pittance, bringing less than his collection of odd antiquities. he was irrepressible though, and soldiered on unfazed.

Although a lifetime bachelor, or so his friends thought, he eventually married, and his wife Alice bore him eight children. He smoothly switched from extravagant dandy to family man. He continued to teach for the League and then for the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Having moved to Brooklyn , where he also taught, he painted a series of pictures of Prospect Park, and Central Park both designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, here is one of those from the late 1880's of Central park.

Here is a painting of Chase's family having breakfast in the back yard of their Brooklyn home.

Below is another portrait, belonging to the Met. Chase was a successful and admired painter. He was accepted into the National Academy, and while there, objected to the refusal of membership to the Bostonians Tarbell and Benson. You have to wonder what that jury was thinking?

Had Chase ended his career at this point he would have been remembered as an important American painter, but it is what happened next that puts him into THIS history and gave him an unparalleled influence over the coming generations of painters, particularly of the plein air sort. He opened a summer landscape school out on the moors of Long Island, at Shinnecock.


willek said...

Just great info, Stape... and what painting. I hope to hear your take on his relationship with Henri.

Shelley Bittick said...

Been following you for a while now and just wanted to let you know, you have the best bed time stories that always send me off to sweet dreams.

Unknown said...

Loving it. Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Whistler and Chase.
I think the Chase/Henri thing is more myth than anything else, and what good is it to speculate about it. I've heard that they had softball teams that competed against each other in Central Park (to tell the truth, I find that hard to believe). Sorry for that sidetrack, enjoyed this immensely. Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

their respective students I meant to say, competed against each other in softball, or so I've heard.

Unknown said...

This is great stuff. That Whistler portrait is just over the top.
I think maybe you should start wearing your hair like that. The outfit isn't bad either.

Gregory Becker said...

I love these stories behind the story posts. I know that your about to knock our socks off with your next post.

willek said...

Same chair in his back yard picture as in his end of season picture. Kind of an odd, abbreviated windser chair. Did he take one while no one was looking? Did he like them so much he bought one.

Robert J. Simone said...

Viewed in person it is easy to see why Whistler was insulted by this portrait. It does not portray him in a favorable light. Last time I saw it I remember remarking to my wife that Chase clearly did not like Whistler. The pose especially makes him out to be an "arrogant priss." I love that the Met has it in a room with some other large portraits by both Whistler and Sargent. Great stuff!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Well OK.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, sweet dreams.

Stapleton Kearns said...

remember we painted that fountain location together in Manhattan.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You missed it 25 years ago I thought I WAS Whistler.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Funny, I never thought of you as having socks.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hadn't noticed. I think perhaps it was just a common design?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Whistler WAS an arrogant priss. Chase nailed him, I think.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Yes absolutely I remember, I've painted near Bethesda Fountain on many occasions. There is a wonderful exhibit now at the Met, "American Stories" And there are high resolution images on the met website of the paintings. "Here's one by Chase of his 10th Street studio.