The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase
The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase
The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase

The Back Yard Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase

  • William Merritt Chase and his landscapes are among the greatest achievements of American Impressionism
  • His depictions of Shinnecock Hills are quintessential examples of his distinctive style
  • This particular work was composed by Chase during a demonstration for his summer art students
  • The oil brings together all the best elements of this important region and significant period
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Item No. 30-9122
Price: Available upon request
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William Merritt Chase
1849-1916 | American

The Back Yard, Shinnecock

Signed "Chase" (lower left)
Oil on canvas

One of the most engaging and important American artists of the late 19th and early 20th century, William Merritt Chase and his remarkable landscapes are among the greatest achievements of American Impressionism. His depictions of the hills and shoreline near his summer home in Shinnecock Hills in Long Island, New York, are quintessential examples of his distinctive style, notable for their singular clarity of vision. The Back Yard, Shinnecock, which captures a worn down toolshed, demonstrates the dexterous brushwork and essential use of color that distinguishes his Shinnecock canvases from later works in his oeuvre. Capturing sand, dune shrubs, blue skies and sunshine, the oil brings together all the best elements of this important region and significant artistic period.

Not only was Chase attracted to the beautiful and distinctive countryside in Shinnecock Hills, but the area also became home to the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art that he established there in 1890. He had an extraordinary natural talent for teaching, taking his students on trips around the area to compose works en plein air, while also occasionally demonstrating his technique by dashing off a composition. The Back Yard, Shinnecock is one such work - Chase composed the piece during a plein air demonstration for his summer school students around 1900. It can be identified as such by the artist's signature, "Chase," rather than the more formal "Wm. M. Chase" that he generally used. According to Ronald Pisano in his catalogue raisonné of the artist's works, "[Chase] is reputed to have thrilled students when within minutes of beginning a work he would capture the essence of the subject before him."

Covered with low vertical brush, the rolling sandy hills that stretched along the southern coast of Long Island were the perfect subjects for Chase to explore color, light and texture with his students. The present work shows his talent for capturing all three - he provides a stunning visual record of the colors and forms he saw before him, all in energetic sweeps of his brush that add to the vivacity and atmosphere of the scene. Though he later moved on from Long Island to paint scenes in Europe and California, it is his works from his 12 summers in Shinnecock Hills that remain central to his oeuvre, representing a period that was among the most innovative and fruitful of his career.

Born in 1849 in Indiana, Chase showed an early interest in art, studying under local artists Barton S. Hays and Jacob Cox. After studying in Indianapolis and later at New York's National Academy of Design, Chase gained the sponsorship of a group of local St. Louis businessmen to study abroad in 1872. Rather than choosing Paris like many of his contemporaries, Chase decided to study at the academy in Munich, where he fell under the influence of Wilhelm Leibel, a painter renowned for his dramatic chiaroscuro. During these early years, Chase borrowed from a number of European artistic traditions, including the Old Masters.

He returned to New York in 1878, and by the 1880s he began to update his style to mimic the Impressionists in France, particularly Édouard Manet. He pursued a distinctly new modern style, capturing urban scenes in New York that recalled the canvases of Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte and Claude Monet. By 1891, when he first began to summer in Shinnecock Hills, his American Impressionist style was nearly fully developed and highly successful, earning him critical acclaim and winning him innumerable honors at home and abroad. Today his works can be found in nearly every important public collection of American art, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and many others.

Circa 1900

Canvas: 30" high x 25 1/8" wide
Frame: 41" high x 35 3/4" wide

References:
William Merritt Chase: The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase Vol. 3, New Haven and London, 2009, by R. Pisano, p. 131, no. L.273 (illustrated)
specifications
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:America
Subject:Landscape
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