CHASE, William Merritt
(b. 1849, Williamsburg, d. 1916, New York)
Oil on canvas, 65 x 90 cm
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth
Teaching in public or state art schools by artists associated with Impressionism was of central importance in the American dissemination of the new art and its ideas. Summer schools devoted to open-air painting became established in the 1890s as an integral part of American art teaching. The most popular and successful of the schools was the Shinnecock Summer School, opened on Long Island in 1891. It was founded by William Merrit Chase who taught the methods and practice of open-air painting there for twelve consecutive summers.
The carefree cheerfulness that Chase's canvases emanate became increasingly Impressionist in technique as the 1890s wore on. He became master of the flickering atmospherics of light set off by blue strips of sea or sky and enlivened by women and children in bright summer dresses. The dunes and beaches of Shinnecock on Long Island provided Chase with his staple material. A particularly fine example of this period in his work is Idle Hours.