In 1878, after extensive training at the Königliche Akademie in Munich, William Merritt Chase returned to New York to begin a long and influential teaching career, first at the Art Students League and later privately. With the support of wealthy patrons like Mrs. Andrew Carnegie and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, in 1891 he founded the Shinnecock Summer School of Art in Long Island’s exclusive Southampton, where for over a decade he taught his variety of deftly produced plein air painting. Residing amid the dunes in a Stanford White-designed house, Chase prodigiously continued to produce his own art, which in response to his brightened surroundings assumed a lighter, brushier appearance, causing him to be increasingly identified more with American Impressionism than Realism. As with other American adherents of the style, Chase’s mode of Impressionism differed significantly from its French precursor, generally employing a higher-keyed, chalkier palette and eschewing the more theoretical and analytical aspects of the original’s approach to painting light and air effects. Landscape: Shinnecock, Long Island is a particularly successful example of a group of similar scenes showing members of Chase’s family at rest and play. The carefully balanced image combines in its small squarish format the artist’s favorite subject matter — landscape with the sympathetic depiction of the leisure class — rendered in a style whose emphasis on surface and finish over content encapsulates his view that "Art transcends Nature. One must paint what is behind the eye of the artist."
Signed in brown, lower right: Wm. M. Chase.
Linda S. Ferber, ed., Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas (Bronx: The New York Botanical Garden, 2016).
Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the Collections, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2013).
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).
William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916: a retrospective exhibition, (Southhampton, NY: Parrish Art Museum, 1957).
F. J. Mather, "American paintings at Princeton University," Record of the Museum of Historic Art, Princeton University 2,no. 2 (1943): p. 2-15.
An Educated Eye: The Princeton University Art Museum Collection (Friday, February 22, 2008 - Sunday, June 15, 2008)