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William Merritt Chase


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(b Williamsburg [now Nineveh], Ind., 1 Nov. 1849; d New York, 25 Oct. 1916).

American painter. He was a versatile and prolific artist, but is remembered chiefly as the most important art teacher of his generation in the USA. His principal posts were in New York—at the Art Students League, 1878–94, and at his own Chase School, 1896–1908—but he also taught in Chicago, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. From 1891 to 1902 he ran the Shinnecock Summer School on Long Island, the first important school of open-air painting in America, and he also pioneered study trips abroad (he visited Europe regularly throughout his career). A flamboyant and popular man, he was active in virtually every art organization in New York and he did a great deal to promote the art of his colleagues and countrymen. Apart from teaching, he made his living mainly through portraiture, but he was often in financial difficulties. His other subjects included still lifes, interiors, and landscapes. He took great joy in the process of painting, and the vigorous brushwork and fresh colour that characterizes much of the best American painting of the early 20th century owes much to his example. His students included Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Charles Sheeler. See also Ten, The.

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