William Merritt Chase

(American, 1849 - 1916)

William Merritt Chase was born in Williamsburg, Indiana. He declined to follow his father into the women’s shoe business and took lessons with the Indianapolis portraitist Barton S. Hays (1826–1914) in 1867, before studying at the National Academy of Design in New York with Lemuel P. Wilmarth (1835–1918) in 1869. Chase moved to St. Louis in 1871 and worked as a professional artist. Local patrons provided him with the financial support necessary to study in Europe, and he entered the Royal Academy in Munich in 1872, an experience that profoundly influenced his artistic development. Chase returned to New York in 1878, moved into the Tenth Street Studio Building, and embarked on a long and distinguished career as a painter of landscapes, studio interiors, still-lifes, and commissioned portraits. He participated in the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists in 1878 and was elected president of the group in 1880. Chase was an influential teacher, and taught at the Art Students’ League and the Brooklyn Art School. He conducted summer classes in Shinnecock, Long Island, from 1891 to 1902, and founded the Chase School (later named the New York School of Art and now the Parsons New School for Design) in 1896. Chase was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1888, and became a full academician two years later.