I am as usual grateful to the artrenewal.org 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.