By Kate Gibbs | June 27, 2016 | Culture
This summer The Phillips Collection highlights the career and influence of gilded age master William Merritt Chase.
Hall at Shinnecock is among the 60 works on view at the Phillips Collection by the influential American impressionist William Merritt Chase.
A little girl peeps out of a doorway across an empty room where a second child conceals herself behind drapery. Our eyes are drawn diagonally up across the plane toward the sliver of light illuminating their game. The bold domestic composition is deliberately balanced by flecks of color: blue ribbons on a party dress, red buds on the chintz.
The painting, of course, is William Merritt Chase’s Hide and Seek (1888), one of 60 works that the Phillips Collection has compiled for a major retrospective. “William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master”—the first such show in 30 years— pulls back the curtain on the painter, aesthete, and teacher of American modernists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Marsden Hartley.
Curator Elsa Smithgall presents Chase (1849– 1916) in all his glory: formal portraits of finely dressed patrons, sundappled scenes of Hamptons summers, and children at play. Think of the show as an Instagram account from the Gilded Age, a reflection of an artist’s voracious appetite for American beauty at the advent of leisure time.
“Chase talked about how art should appeal to the eyes but come from the heart,” says Smithgall. “He believed you could make just about anything beautiful. One work from the end of his career is called Just Onions, and it is. And it is exquisite.” June 4 to September 11, 1600 21st St. NW, 202-387-2151
photography Courtesy of the phillips ColleCtion, Washington, DC (Hide and Seek); toleDo MuseuM of art,
purChaseD With funDs froM the florenCe sCott libbey bequest in MeMory of her father, MauriCe a. sCott (THe
Open air BreakfaST); terra founDation for aMeriCan art, Daniel J. terra ColleCtion (Hall aT SHinnecOck); art
institute of ChiCago, bequest of Dr. John J. irelanD (a ciTy park)