William Merritt Chase
Weary (Who Rang?) , ca. 1889
Oil on panel , 9 7/16 x 12 3/8 inches
Private Collection

Chase Inside and Out: The Aesthetic Interiors of William Merritt Chase

October 31 – December 31, 2004

Berry-Hill Galleries is pleased to present the first exhibition devoted to the interiors of the American painter William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). Demonstrating the personal and aesthetic meanings that interiors held for Chase throughout his career, Chase Inside & Out highlights the artist’s exploration of the theme in a variety of genres, ranging from portraits and figure compositions to studio interiors and still-lifes.

The exhibition features over thirty paintings on loan from museums and private collections, including the Phillips Collection, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Academy of Design, and the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York, repository of many Chase paintings. In addition, the exhibit includes more than twenty photographs featuring the artist, his family, studios, and homes.
Chase’s interiors, especially paintings of his Tenth Street Studio, have figured prominently in recent studies of his art. This exhibition, and its accompanying essay by Bruce Weber, Director of Research and Exhibitions at Berry-Hill, aims to take these investigations further by examining Chase’s interiors as they relate to his development as an artist and to his body of work as a whole. The catalogue also includes an essay by Sarah Kate Gillespie on the role that photography played in Chase’s life and work.

Among the works featured in the exhibition is Studio Interior (c. 1879), an intimate portrayal of items from Chase’s collection that is possibly the artist’s earliest studio piece. In The Blue Kimono (A Comfortable Corner) (c. 1888, The Parrish Art Museum) and Weary (c. 1889, Private Collection), the artist’s Tenth Street studio is not only a showcase for Japanese décor, but also a stunning backdrop for the female figure. At Her Ease (c.1884, National Academy of Design) portrays a wistful young girl dressed in black reclining in a plush red armchair set against a terra-cotta colored wall. Chase probably found his model for the painting at the orphanage next door to his studio building. The subject of Did You Speak to Me? (1897, The Butler Institute of American Art) is the artist’s daughter, Cosy, surrounded by paintings in her father’s Shinnecock, Long Island, studio. She is shown looking out engagingly at the viewer, having been interrupted from examining a small Shinnecock landscape in a gold frame. Also included in the exhibition is Back of a Nude, an example from Chase’s series of nine pastel nudes from the late 1880s. Interior: Oak Manor (1899, Private Collection) focuses on the passage of light through the cavernous space of a grand hall. Together these works demonstrate Chase’s ever-changing fascination with the interior in all its manifestations.

The opening of the exhibition is a benefit for The Parrish Art Museum, in support of the institution's curatorial work.