William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Spring Flowers (Peonies), 1889. Pastel On Paper, Prepared With A Tan Ground, And Wrapped With Canvas Around A Wooden Strainer, 48 x 48 in. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection© Terra Foundation for American Art.

WASHINGTON—This summer, The Phillips Collection will present a major international exhibition on American artist William Merritt Chase (1849–1916). A renowned figure in the international art circles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chase was a brilliant observer of contemporary life, an innovative painter, and an influential teacher. Marking the centennial of his death, this retrospective—the first in more than three decades—explores the interrelationships in Chase’s work across subject and media. William Merritt Chase: A Retrospective is on view at the Phillips beginning June 4, 2016.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), The Big Bayberry Bush, c. 1895. The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, Littlejohn Collection© The Parrish Art Museum.

Co-organized by The Phillips Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia, and the Terra Foundation for American Art, William Merritt Chase brings together more than 75 of the artist’s best works from all phases of his four-decade-long career, from portraits and figurative paintings, to urban park scenes, domestic interiors, still lifes, and landscapes. The exhibition also includes several fine examples of Chase’s pastels to highlight the integral role the medium played within his oeuvre. A co-founder of the progressive Society of American Painters in Pastel, Chase was a leader in the late 19th-century revival of pastel painting and one of its most innovative practitioners. Throughout his career, Chase experimented with pastel alongside his work in oil, translating the painterly qualities of wet color to the velvety effects of dry pigment.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Hall at Shinnecock, 1892. Pastel On Canvas, 32 1/8 x 41in. Terra Foundation for American Art. Daniel J. Terra Collection© Terra Foundation for American Art.

William Merritt Chase sheds new light on the artist’s aesthetic philosophy, artistic practice, and working methods, while positioning his work within the vibrant international cultural climate at the turn of the 20th century. Drawing on significant new scholarship in the field since the last Chase retrospective in 1983, this exhibition provides a fresh appraisal of the artist and his important contribution to the history of American art. The exhibition also focuses attention on Chase’s role as a highly influential and devoted teacher, who trained and inspired the next generation of American artists, including Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Joseph Stella, who feature prominently in the Phillips’s permanent collection.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), At the Seaside, c.1892. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Today, as the history of American art is being rewritten through 21st-century eyes, long overlooked but revolutionary figures like Chase deserve renewed attention,” explains Curator Elsa Smithgall. “While the artist’s so-called ‘eclecticism’ has made it a challenge for scholars to fit him into a particular art movement, this exhibition firmly redresses that position by asserting that Chase’s stylistic experimentation is one of his strongest virtues. The Phillips has celebrated American art and artists since it opened to the public in 1921, and this indepth presentation of Chase enriches our understanding of his vital place within the history of American art and his lasting legacy in the art of our time.”


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Self-Portrait in 4th Avenue Studio, 1915-1916. Richmond Art Museum, purchase and gift of Warner M. Leeds, 1916. © Richmond Art Museum.

This exhibition will be the first Chase retrospective to be exhibited abroad, traveling to the International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, Italy, in February 2017 after appearing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 2016–January 2017.

William Merritt Chase once said, ‘Art has become international… the best of art today belongs to all countries combined and localization has been entirely done away with,’ and this curatorial team’s rigorous intellectual study is aptly driven by an international approach,” says Director Dorothy Kosinski. “A growing interest in transnational approaches to historical American art makes it a timely moment for a major Chase exhibition and an unprecedented opportunity to introduce international audiences to a preeminent American artist who is largely unknown outside the United States.”

William Merritt Chase: A Retrospective is on view at the Phillips June 4–September 11, 2016.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Portrait of Dora Wheeler, 1882–83. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Boudinot Keith in memory of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade. © The Cleveland Museum of Art.


 William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Just Onions (Onions; Still Life), 1912. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mary D. Keeler Bequest. © Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), The Turkish Page (Unexpected Intrusion), 1876. Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of the John Levy Galleries, 1923. © Cincinnati Art Museum.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), The Open Air Breakfast, c. 1888. Oil On Canvas, 37 7/16 x 56 3/4 in. Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her father, Maurice A. Scott. © Toledo Museum of Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1885. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of William H. Walker, 1918. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Ready for a walk, c. 1885. Oil On Canvas, 84 x 48 in., 213.4 x 121.9 cm. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.26. © Terra Foundation for American Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Venice, 1877. Oil On Canvas, 22 x 13 in. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Westheimer Family Collection, 1991.046. © Oklahoma City Museum of Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Hide and Seek, 1888. Oil On Canvas, 27 5/8 x 35 7/8 in., 70.17 x 91.12 cm. Phillips Collection. Acquired 1923, 298. © Phillips Collection.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Mother and Child (The First Portrait), c. 1888. Oil On Canvas, 70 1/8 x 40 1/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Gift of Ehrich Newhouse Gallery, New York. © Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Mrs Chase and Child (I'm Going to See Grandma), circa 1889. Pastel On Paper, 29 x 41 in., 73.7 x 104.1 cm. San Antonio Museum of Art. Gift of Mrs. Frederic G. Oppenheimer, 50.6. © San Antonio Museum of Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Shinnecock Studio Interior, 1892. Pastel On Paper Mounted On Canvas, 16 x 20in., 40.6 x 50.8cm. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.5. © Terra Foundation for American Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Study of Flesh Color and Gold, 1888. Pastel On Paper, 18 x 13 in., 45.7 x 33 cm. National Gallery of Art. Gift of Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz, 2007.94.2. © National Gallery of Art.


William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), The Olive Grove, c. 1910. Oil On Canvas Mounted To Wood Panel, 23 1/2 x 33 1/2 in., 59.7 x 85.1 cm. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.25. © Terra Foundation for American Art.


Dwight Primiano, Seaside Flowers, ca. 1897. Oil On Canvas, 29 x 38 1/2 in., 73.7 x 97.8 cm. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 2006.75. © Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


Dwight Primiano, The Song, 1907. Oil On Canvas, 28 x 28 in., 71.1 x 71.1 cm. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. © Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.