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Portrait of the Artist's Daughter (Dorothy)

Portrait of the Artist's Daughter (Dorothy)
signed and dedicated 'To my friend Clinedinst./Wm M. Chase.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
35 ½ x 25 ½ in. (90.2 x 64.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1897
Benjamin West Clinedinst, New York (acquired from the artist).
Mrs. Benjamin West Clinedinst, New York (by descent from the above).
Josephine Elling, New York (by descent from the above).
Private collection, San Francisco.
Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 27 October 1978, lot 155a.
Grand Central Art Galleries, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Haig Tashjian, New York.
The Sterling Regal Collection.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 25 May 1988, lot 20.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
"Haig Tashjian: 'A Proud Possessor,'" Illuminator, winter 1978-1979, p. 21 (illustrated).
"The Arts," The Southampton Press, 22 April 1982 (illustrated).
"La Femme," The Dixon Gallery and Gardens Newsletter, vol. VII, no. 6, November-December 1984.
T. Armstrong, An American Odyssey: The Warner Collection of American Fine and Decorative Arts, Gulf States Paper Corporation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, New York, 2001, p. 149 (illustrated).
R.G. Pisano, William Merritt Chase: Portraits in Oil, New Haven, Connecticut, 2007, vol. II, pp. 138-39, no. OP.256 (illustrated).
Art & Antiques, vol. 33, no. 3, March 2010, p. 55.
Southampton, New York, The Parrish Art Museum, William Merritt Chase in the Company of Friends, May-June, 1979, p. 61, no. 19.
New York, Grand Central Art Galleries, 59th Annual Founders Exhibition of Art, October-November 1980, p. 18, no. 45 (illustrated).
Southampton, New York, The Parrish Art Museum; Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve System; Yonkers, The Hudson River Museum, American Realist and Impressionist Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Haig Tashjian, April 1982-March 1983, pp. 17 and 54(illustrated, fig. 1 and on the cover).
Seattle, University of Washington, Henry Art Gallery, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase 1849-1916, October, 1983-January, 1984, p. 117 (illustrated).
Memphis, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, La Femme: The Influence of Whistler and Japanese Print Masters on American Art, 1880-1917, November 1984-January 1985.
New York, Grand Central Art Galleries, William Merritt Chase/Robert Henri: Between Two American Masters, October-November 1985.
Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, American Dreams: Paintings and Decorative Arts from the Warner Collection, September1997-January 1998.

Lot Essay

Chase’s interiors have been repeatedly acknowledged as some of the finest accomplishments of American Impressionism. The collector Duncan Phillips praised their evocative qualities, “Whether it is the sumptuous splendor of a Venetian palace, shades from the summer sun, or just perspective of rooms, in which one would like to live, the charm of a Chase interior is immediate. It is more than a trick of cool light on reflecting surfaces, mahogany tabletops and hard wood floors. It is a hint of once familiar moments long forgotten, a sentiment of the quiet dignity of a patrician home” (quoted in R. Pisano, William Merritt Chase, New York, 1982, p. 64).
Chase’s artistic career began in earnest in the 1870s in Munich, Germany, and in Holland in the mid-1880s, where he developed his signature style incorporating bold, vivacious strokes with meticulous attention to composition and color variations. Beginning in 1886, Chase began to depict his own environs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, rather than the European subjects to which he had been so devoted. Simultaneously, Chase’s works became more impressionistic in style, and many New York critics considered him the most modern artist active at the time. Chase said, “Impressionism, with the high keyed picture gave us some things that have come to stay, light, air, space—of which the old painters knew less” (quoted in D.S. Atkinson and N. Cikovsky, Jr., William Merritt Chase: Summers at Shinnecock 1891-1902, Washington, D.C., 1987, p. 20). However, Chase was not a strict Impressionist and elements of his more conservative training in Munich continued to appear in his art. “In 1890, a critic called Chase’s an ‘American style,’ describing it as ‘…a composite blending indistinguishably the influences of old and new schools of painting’” (William Merritt Chase: Summers at Shinnecock, 1891-1902, p. 21).
The popular writings of Chase's acquaintance Alfred Stevens, the Belgian artist and author of the highly publicized 1886 book Impressions of Painting, were also very likely influential on Chase. Stevens instructed artists, “One should be of his own time, should be subject to the influence of the sun and of the country in which he lives.” (quoted in William Merritt Chase: Modern American Landscapes, 1886-1890, New York, 2000, p. 44). By turning his focus toward his immediate surroundings and painting the local scene, Chase was certainly subject to these personal influences, which now included daily interactions with the members of his family.
Many scholars have focused on Chase’s extremely warm and outgoing personality. A devoted family man, Chase was often surrounded by his wife, Alice, and any number of his eight children, all of whom are featured in works throughout his oeuvre. Many of Chase’s masterworks feature members of his family, friends, students or models posed in a relaxed atmosphere of elegance and comfort.
Quiet and intimate, the present work depicts Chase’s daughter, Dorothy Brémond Chase, standing in a pared down interior next to a Japanese screen. Having diverse, cosmopolitan taste and a sophisticated aesthetic, Chase was drawn to various decorative arts and objects, a plethora of which he kept in his various studios and often incorporated into his paintings. Chase shared an adoration of Asian decorative arts and costume with his friend and fellow artist, James McNeill Whistler. The screen loosely painted in broad, rapid strokes provides scale and depth to the composition.
Likely painted in Chase’s New York studio, Portrait of the Artists Daughter (Dorothy) relates stylistically and in character with two other works from the period: Hide and Seek (1888, The Phillips Collection) and Ring Toss (circa 1896, Private Collection). In each picture, figures are set deep within the pictorial plane, allowing the expansive foreground to draw one’s eye towards the center of the composition. In the present work, Dorothy, dressed in an elegant white dress, confidently gazes toward the viewer. With his assured impressionistic brushstrokes and masterful depiction of indoor light, Chase creates a brilliant and evocative composition.
Portrait of the Artists Daughter (Dorothy) is exemplary not only of the characteristics that were typical of Chase’s work during this period but also of those that accounted for his acclaim as one of the greatest painters of his time. Chase has masterfully imbued this portrait with a timeless elegance.

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