Studio Interior1882 by William Merritt Chase


One of the most successful painters in late 19th-century America, William Merritt Chase was a New York personality whose reputation was enhanced by the opulent studio space pictured here, in which he worked and promoted his art. First inspired by the exotically appointed studios of his European contemporaries during his student years abroad, Chase embarked on his own collecting, returning to New York with a wide-ranging assortment of paintings, furniture, textiles, metalwork, ceramics and frames. In 1879 he moved into the largest space in the Tenth Street Studio Building, installing his possessions in the setting that would become a favorite haunt of colleagues, patrons, and the public, to whom it was opened once a week. Chase's paintings of the studio, which highlight a variety of views, suggest his belief in a complete and passionate engagement with art. Characterized by rich colors and lively brushwork, the paintings appealed to an American audience increasingly under the sway of the British Aesthetic Movement, which above all championed the artistic appointment of interiors with a rich ensemble of decorated surfaces.

Celebrated as “one of the finest studios in the city,” William Merritt Chase’s lavish Tenth Street Studio brimming with a diverse array of objects, paintings, textiles, and bric-a-brac is brilliantly captured in this painting. Chase arranged the space of his studio with the same artistic eye for color, rhythm, and harmony that he imparted to his art. As he said, “A wall should be treated as a canvas is. Real objects take the place of colors.”
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