Posts Tagged ‘William Merritt Chase’

One painter’s dreamy scenes of New York at play

September 22, 2014

Though he spent much of his life in his beloved Paris, Alfred Henry Maurer was a New Yorker from beginning to end.

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Born in the city in 1868, he was the son of a German immigrant who worked as a talented lithographer for Currier and Ives.

After studying with William Merritt Chase, Maurer took off for Paris, the center of the art world at the time, where he worked in a mostly realist style, depicting beautiful women and cafe life in the city of light.

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Briefly, Maurer returned to New York at the turn of the century. He won acclaim and awards, and in 1901 and 1902 he painted these enchanting scenes of New York’s Gilded Age leisure class at play.

Two paintings depict Rockaway Beach, the popular amusement playground developed in the early 1900s.

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Another painting shows us a carousel in Brooklyn, with mothers and children watching the painted wooden horses under darkening skies.

MaurerselfportraitMaurer (in a self-portrait, right) didn’t stay in New York long—nor did he stick to his usual realist style.

Back in Paris again, he abandoned realism in favor of Matisse-influenced Modernism, doing abstract portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. Examples of his later works can be seen here.

World War I forced him back to his family apartment in New York City, where he continued to paint and take part in exhibitions, but garnered little of the critical acclaim he’d had as a younger man.

He died in Manhattan in 1932, committing suicide by hanging in his father’s West 43rd Street home.

A 10th Street studio brings artists to the Village

May 6, 2013

WorthingtonwhittredgeIn 1858, as Pfaff’s beer cellar at 647 Broadway began attracting an arts-oriented crowd, a new building just blocks away on 10th Street would further build Greenwich Village’s reputation as a neighborhood of artists.

Called the Tenth Street Studio Building, it was a handsome three-story structure made up of 25 studios plus communal space.

“[The studios were] an attempt to create a place for visual artists and architects to live together, to have affordable studio space, and to sell their works,” wrote Michelle and James Nevius in Inside the Apple.

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Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the building, at 55 West 10th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, was a hit with artists.

Winslow Homer, John LaFarge, Frederick Church, Alexander Calder, Worthington Whittredge (above), and William Merritt Chase all took studio space there.

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Chase even made the interior of his studio, crammed with objects and art collected during his travels, into a subject numerous times. This painting, from 1880, features an attractive young woman, a Bohemian feel, and a shadowy profile of Chase (below) on the right.

WilliammerrittchaseThe Tenth Street Studios inspired the building of other artists’ spaces in the neighborhood, which drew more artists and art lovers to Greenwich Village. Ever since, the Village has been known for its creative culture.

Too bad the Tenth Street building that started it all no longer exists. Photographed by Berenice Abbott in 1938 (top), it was knocked down 18 years later to make way for an apartment house.

A painter’s blurry, enchanting, elusive New York

February 28, 2013

Born in St. Louis in 1864 and trained in France, Paul Cornoyer made a name for himself in the late 19th century, painting landscapes and urban scenes in an impressionist style.

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“In 1899, with encouragement from William Merritt Chase, he moved to New York City,” states oxfordgallery.com.

Here he opened a studio, became associated with the Ash Can school, and for many years was a beloved art teacher at the Mechanics Institute.

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“Celebrated for his lyrical cityscapes and atmospheric landscapes, Paul Cornoyer crafted an indelible impression of fin-de-siècle New York,” explains this fine arts site.

[Above: "Winter Twilight Central Park"; below, "Flatiron Building"]

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Well-known in his day, his typically rainy, muted depictions of New York City sold well and earned him fame, particularly “The Plaza After Rain” (below) and “Madison Square in the Afternoon” (top).

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He’s not a household name, but his vision of a New York with soft edges and blurred borders still resonates—reflecting a moody city filled with mystery and enchantment.

A lovely day in Brooklyn’s Tompkins Park in 1887

September 10, 2012

William Merritt Chase depicts late 19th century Brooklyn parks in several of his paintings.

He lived with his family on Marcy Avenue at the time, so it’s no surprise that he painted scenes like this one from Tompkins Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Tompkins, named after a local abolitionist, was the first park established by the city of Brooklyn and laid out by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Opened in the 1870s, it’s now called Herbert Von King Park, after a Bed-Stuy community leader.

“Afternoon by the sea at Gravesend Bay”

April 20, 2011

Cape Cod? Chesapeake Bay? England? France? It’s actually Gravesend, the town settled by British Quakers in Southern Brooklyn, as depicted in 1888 by painter William Merritt Chase.

Lovely and peaceful, isn’t it? I have no clue what block in today’s Gravesend this location would correspond to. But Gravesend Bay extends into lower New York Bay, and that’s either Staten Island or New Jersey in the distance.

Genteel and peaceful Prospect Park, 1886

November 5, 2010

Nineteenth-century artist William Merritt Chase frequently painted serene scenes of Gilded Age Prospect Park, Von King’s (Tompkins) Park, and other Brooklyn landscapes.

No wonder—this teacher at the Art Students League reportedly lived for a time on Marcy Avenue.

The Brooklyn Museum has an extensive collection of his work.


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