Smithsonian Institute, aa_macbgall_4737
William Merritt Chase
Date: American painter and printmaker, 1849–1916
Biography: William Merritt Chase was born in Indiana and studied art in Indianapolis and New York, at the National Academy of Design. A group of Saint Louis businessmen offered to send him to Europe in 1872, and he supposedly replied: "My God, I'd rather go to Europe than go to heaven." With their patronage, he traveled to Munich where he enrolled at the Munich Academy, absorbed the dramatic brushwork of contemporary painter Wilhelm Leibl, and studied Old Masters like Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Hals. In 1878 he returned to New York. He exhibited in the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists and began teaching at the recently founded Art Students League. He was part of the generation that changed the course of American art, importing the latest styles from Europe. He kept a studio, decorated with his eclectic collection of international bric-a-brac, in the Tenth Street Studio Building in Greenwich Village. Chase was also an influential instructor, teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the League, as well as opening the Chase School of Art (later the New York School of Art) in 1896. His students included Charles Demuth, Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Georgia O'Keeffe.