Overview

William Merritt Chase, an influential art teacher and one of the leading exponents of American impressionism, captured the genteel, privileged life of polite society in the 1890s. A Friendly Call, set in Chase's elegant summer house at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, shows two fashionably dressed women in a large, airy room decorated with prints, paintings, hanging textiles, and a large, gilt–framed mirror. The artist's wife Alice, on the right, listens attentively to her visitor, who is still wearing her hat and gloves and carrying a parasol.

Chase's rendering of light, his facile brushwork, and his choice of everyday subject matter all recall the work of the French impressionists; yet, unlike his European contemporaries, the artist carefully composed his paintings to underscore abstract elements. Simple rectangular patterns of the floor, wall, and couch are echoed in the framed pictures and wall hangings while they are contrasted to the more curvilinear figures, chair, and plump pillows. The mirror framing Mrs. Chase offers a surprising reflection of a wall behind the viewer; Chase's compositional arrangement and his use of reflected imagery suggest that he may have been paying homage to the 17th–century Spanish artist Velázquez, whose much–admired painting Las Meninas displays a similarly inventive studio interior.

Inscription

lower left: Wm. M. Chase. / copyright 1895

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Samuel T. Shaw, 1895;[1] (his sale, American Art Association, New York, 21-22 January 1926, no. 193); Chester Dale [1883-1962], New York; gift 1943 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1895
Catalogue of the Seventeenth Annual Exhibition, Society of American Artists, New York, 1895, no. 270.
1901
Catalogue of the Eight Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings, Sculpture, and Ceramics by American Artists, Nebraska Art Association, Lincoln, 1901-1902, 13, no. 17.
1901
Exhibition of Fine Arts, Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901, no. 522.
1904
Universal Exposition [Commemorating the Louisiana Purchase 1803], St. Louis, 1904, no. 131.
1910
William Merritt Chase Retrospective Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York, 1910, no. 1.
1917
Loan Exhibition of Paintings by William M. Chase, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1917, no. 21.
1935
American Genre: The Social Scene in Painting & Prints, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1935, no. 20.
1936
An Exhibition of American Genre Paintings, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1936, no. 21.
1937
An Exhibition of American Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection, The Union League Club, New York, 1937, no. 33.
1939
Life in America [A Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings Held During the Period of the New York World's Fair], The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1939, no. 284, repro.
1940
An Exhibition of Great Paintings in Aid of the Canadian Red Cross and of Small Paintings by Members of the Ontario Society of Artists, The Art Gallery of Toronto, Canada, 1940, 25, no. 115.
1940
Masterpieces of Art. European & American Paintings 1500-1900, New York World's Fair, May-October 1940, no. 311.
1943
American Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1943.
1946
American Painting from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, Tate Gallery, London, 1946, no. 41a.
1965
The Chester Dale Bequest, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1965, unnumbered checklist.
1973
American Impressionist Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; The North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 1973, 39, no. 20 (shown only at the National Gallery of Art).
1987
William Merritt Chase: Summers at Shinnecock, 1891-1902, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, 1987, 49-50, 56, 60-63, no. 21 (shown only at the National Gallery of Art).
2010
From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, January 2010-January 2012, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
2010
From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, January 2010-January 2012, unnumbered catalogue, repro.

Bibliography

1895
Cortissoz, Royal. "Spring Art Exhibitions. The Society of American Artists." Harper's Weekly 38 (6 April 1895): 318, repro. 316.
1895
"News of the Fine Arts." Monthly Illustrator 4 (second quarter 1895): vi.
1895
Poindexter, Phillip. "A Foremost American Painter." Leslie's Weekly 80 (16 May 1895): 319.
1895
"Society of American Artists." Art Amateur 32 (May 1895): 157.
1895
"Society of American Artists. Opening of the Seventeenth Annual Exhibition." New York Sun (24 March 1895).
1902
Cox, Kenyon. "Some American Figure Painters." Cosmopolitan 32 (April 1902): 592, repro., as The Afternoon Call.
1926
"Paintings to be Sold at Auction." American Art Annual 23 (1926): 361.
1939
Cortissoz, Royal. "A Famous School Shows its Laurel." New York Herald Tribune (14 February 1939): 4.
1939
Watson, Forbes. "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Magazine of Art 32 no. 6 (June 1939): 335, repro. 328.
1947
"American Painting of the 18th and 19th Centuries in the Tate Gallery Exhibition." Antiques 51 (February 1947): no. 23, repro. 103.
1948
Walker, John. "American Masters in the National Gallery of Art." National Geographic Magazine 94 (September 1948): 324, color repro. 320.
1949
Peat, Wilbur D. "Checklist of Unknown Work by William M. Chase." In Chase Centennial Exhibition. Exh. cat. Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, 1949: unpaginated.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 328, repro.
1965
_Paintings other than French in the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 40, repro.
1967
Wilmerding, John. Pittura Americana dell' Ottocento. Milan, 1967: 24, color repro. 82, as Una Visita Amicherole.
1970
_American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 40, repro.
1971
Campbell, William P. "The American Heritage at the National Gallery of Art." The Connoisseur 178 (December 1971): 268.
1972
Hoopes, Donelson F. The American Impressionists. New York, 1972: 42, color repro. 43.
1972
Maass, John. The Victorian Home in America. New York, 1972: repro. 178, pl. 28.
1973
Domit, Moussa M. American Impressionist Painting. Washington, 1973: 39, 72, 77, no. 20, repro. 77.
1975
Wilmerding, John. Audubon, Homer, Whistler, and Nineteenth Century America. New York, 1975: 16, color repro. 74, as A Friendly Visit.
1976
Wilmerding, John. American Art. Harmondsworth, England, and New York, 1976: 145, pl. 175.
1977
Young, Mahonri Sharp. American Realists: Homer to Hopper. New York, 1977: repro. 103.
1980
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 130, repro.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 10, 16, no. 46, color repro.
1981
Canaday, John. Mainstreams of Modern Art. 2d ed. New York, 1981: 281, repro. 280.
1981
Hoopes, Donelson F. "American Impressionism." Portfolio 3 (January-February 1981): 56, color repro. 56-57.
1981
Williams 1981, color repro. 162, 186-7.
1982
Betsky, Celia. "In the Artists Studio." Portfolio 4 (January-February 1982): 38, color repro. cover.
1983
Pisano, Ronald G. A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916. Seattle, 1983: 11, 163, repro. 165.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 561, no. 853, color repro.
1987
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. "Interiors and Interiority." In Atkinson D. Scott, and Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr. William Merritt Chase: Summers at Shinnecock 1891-1902. Exh Cat. Natl. Gallery of Art, Washington, 1987: 49-50, 56, 60-63, 91, fig. 18, color repro. 21.
1987
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. "William Merrit Chase at Shinnecock Hills." Antiques 132 (August 1987): 295, 298, color repro. 300.
1988
Gaehtgens, Thomas W. Bilder aus der Neuen Welt: Amerikanische Malerei des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts: Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Thyssen-Bornemisza und Museen der Vereinigten Staaten. Exh. cat. 2 venues. Munich, 1988: 118, repro.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 152, no. 53, color repro.
1989
Gere, Charlotte. Nineteenth-Century Decoration: The Art of the Interior. London, 1989: 351, no. 430, color repro. 351.
1991
Bryant, Jr., Keith L., William Merritt Chase: A Genteel Bohemian. Columbia, Missouri, 1991: 142 and 164, repro. 165.
1991
Gingold, Diane J. and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 36-37, color repro.
1991
Gordon, Alastair. "Village Voice." Art and Antiques (May 1991): 94, color repro. 93.
1992
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 141, repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 245, repro.
1995
Gallati, Barbara Dyer. William Merritt Chase. New York, 1995: 43.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 55-60, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 304-305, no. 245, color repro.

Technical Summary

A translucent off-white ground covers the medium-weight, plain-weave fabric. The tacking margins were removed, but cusping is found along all four edges. The paint is applied in layers of both wet-into-wet and wet-over-dry, with some scratching through the layers caused by the use of a stiff-bristled brush. In general, infrared reflectography shows no evidence of underdrawing, although pencil and incised lines are used in the vertical window that is reflected in the mirror at the right. There are some small scattered losses, but the paint is in good condition. The artist used abrasion as a conscious technical device, particularly in the upper part of the painting. Discolored varnish was removed when the painting was lined in 1970.

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