The summertime beauty of Brooklyn in the 1880s

Indiana-born William Merritt Chase lived and painted in Manhattan, Munich, Venice, and the Netherlands.

[“Prospect Park, Brooklyn”]


But he also spent about four years residing in Brooklyn. Between 1887 and 1890, he and his new bride (and eventually their first-born daughter) lived with his parents in a home in the progressive, thriving city.

[“In Navy Yard”]


He was apparently taken by Brooklyn’s lovely new parks and more bucolic sections, as he painted many landscapes and scenes of everyday life in the borough’s less urban outposts.

[“Gravesend Bay (the Lower Bay)”]


His favorite places seemed to be Prospect Park, Tompkins Park (below, now renamed Herbert Von King Park), Gravesend Bay, and even the Brooklyn Navy Yard (above, his wife is holding the parasol).

[“The Park”]


Chase painted these pastoral parts of Brooklyn, “not only because they were part of his Brooklyn surroundings at the time; he also wanted to present them to the world as examples of ‘civilized urban landscapes’ that accorded with the European avant-garde model of modern life,” states the New York Times in an article on a Chase retrospective from 2000.


[“Harbor Scene, Brooklyn Docks”]

By the 1890s, after relocating to Manhattan, he depicted Central Park in several paintings. They are lovely, but his Brooklyn work captures the beauty of the City of Churches in full summer bloom.

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3 Responses to “The summertime beauty of Brooklyn in the 1880s”

  1. marygerdt Says:

    Beautiful “snapshots”. Oh that it could have stayed that way…meg

  2. Jackie Cangro Says:

    Thank you for sharing the work of William Merritt Chase. I hadn’t heard of him before this post and I’m really taken with his paintings. I’ll be looking into more of his work now.

  3. Reading the newspaper on the subway in 1914 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] hasn’t changed much since Francis Luis Mora, a Uruguayan-born illustrator and instructor at William Merritt Chase‘s School of Art, painted “Evening News—Subway Riders” (top) in […]

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