William Merritt Chase papers, circa 1890-1964

Chase, William Merritt, b. 1849 d. 1916
Painter, Art teacher
Active in New York, N.Y.

Collection size: 0.5 linear feet

Collection Summary: A scrapbook, photographs, a few letters, writings; and printed material. Also in the Archives on microfilm only are an additional scrapbook, letters from Chase, photographs, and writings.

The family scrapbook contains photographs of Chase, his family and his travels, including images of Rome, Milan, Gibraltar and the Loire Valley. Photographs are of Chase, his family, studio and works of art. Letters consist of a postcard to Chase's daughter Helen from an unidentified writer, 1935; a letter to Helen from Ala Story, 1964, in which Story describes a Chase exhibition that he is organizing and also apologizes for having given a sketchbook of drawings owned by Helen to the Morgan Library; a letter to Alice Chase, Chase's wife, from Gertrude Abbey, wife of Edwin Austin Abbey, referencing a tile possibly created by Edwin Abbey that Mrs. Chase owns, William Chase's friendship with her husband and a forthcoming book about him; and a postcard to Mr. Harold R. Shiffer from his aunt. Writings include drafts of speeches and lectures by Chase. Printed material consists of thirteen blank picture postcards featuring Chase's works of art.

Biographical/Historical Note: William Merritt Chase (1949-1916) was a painter and instructor in New York, N.Y. and Shinnecock, Long Island. Chase was one of America's most prominent painters and art instructors. After his return from studying in Munich in 1878, he taught at the Art Students League until 1896. Chase's 10th St. studio was an important gathering place for artists, students and patrons. He taught at the Shinnecock Hills Summer Art School from 1891-1896, and lived in a house there designed by Stanford White.

The papers were received in separate accessions of 1960 and 2010: the lectures and speech were donated by Roger Storm, widower of Chase's daughter Helen, in 1969, and the scrapbook and photographs were donated in 2010 by D. Frederick Baker, author of the Chase catalogue raisonne. Baker received the material from Chase's estate via Chase's grandson, Jackson Case Storm. The material lent for microfilming was obtained from various sources: the scrapbook on reel N69-115 was lent by Chase's son Robert, September 1969; photographs on reel N69-119 were obtained from Roger Storm and Mary Cross, a friend of the Chase family physician Dr. Fisher on reel N69-119, via the Chapellier Galleries, which hosted a Chase exhibit in April 1969; and the letters and photographs on reel N69-137 were lent by Roger Storm, November 1969.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels N69-115, N69-119 and N69-137 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
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Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Also in the Archives, on microfilm only, are an additional scrapbook (reel N69-115), photographs (reel N69-119), and letters and photographs (reel N69-137) that were lent for microfilming by various owners. The family scrapbook, undated, contains photographs of Chase, his wife and children, notice of sale of the Chase house in Shinnecock Hills, N.Y. (designed by Stanford White), and interior views of the house. The approximately 200 photographs on reel N69-119 are of Chase at work; his wife, Alice; several of his children; exterior and interior views of his Stuyvesant Square and Shinnecock homes, his studios in Philadelphia and on 5th Ave and 10th Street, New York City; and numerous snapshots of characters in a tableau vivant, including his family, friends, Mary S. Moore Cross, and others. Letters are from Chase and sent mostly to his wife during his travels abroad, and one letter received from John Singer Sargent requesting the use of Chase's studio for the famous party Sargent gave for Mrs. Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1890. Other material on reel N69-137 includes a six-page typescript, "Reminiscences of a Student," by F. Usher De Voll; and photographs of Chase's studio.