William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase
(1849-1916)

By
Armand Cabrera

William Merritt Chase was born in Williamsburg, Indiana. His father operated a successful business as a harness maker. When William was 12, the Chase family moved to Indianapolis where his father opened a shoe store. The young Chase had always shown an interest in art. His father, understanding his son would never follow in the shoe business, took William to a local artist to study art. This was followed by a trip to New York to continue his studies at the National Academy of Design. In New York, he had some success as a still life painter. In 1871, he returned to his family who had moved to St. Louis. Chase opened a studio there. His success was not as great as it was in New York and it was only through the generosity of a few art patrons that Chase was given the chance to go to Europe to continue his training.


In 1872, Chase began classes in Munich at the Royal Academy. Chase’s success at the academy culminated with a commission by the director, Karl Von Piloty. Chase was asked to paint portraits of Piloty’s four children. This endorsement assured Chase’s success as a painter. Before returning home to America, he was offered a position at the newly created Art Students League along with his friend and fellow student, Frank Duveneck. Chase continued to teach at the League until 1896. His exceptional skills as an artist combined with his charismatic nature and unlimited energy made him an instant success as a teacher and artist in America. This vitality allowed him to teach continually at several schools, execute numerous portrait commissions, act as head of art organizations and exhibit in annual competitions.

An accomplished portrait painter, Chase was also a dedicated outdoor painter. He believed in teaching painting from life, whether it was for still life, portrait or landscape painting. Chase was the founder of the first professional American school of outdoor painting on Long Island. The Shinnecock Summer School of Art was started in 1891 and continued until 1902. Subsequently, Chase continued classes abroad and around the country and concluded his teaching in 1913—just three years before his death.

Bibliography

William Merritt Chase 1849-1916
Ronald G. Pisano

Summer Afternoons The Landscape Paintings of William Merritt Chase
Ronald G. Pisano

William Merritt Chase:Modern American Landscapes
Barbara Dayer Gallati

Quote

I believe in single sitting impressions. If you will acquire the ability and facility to do rapidly the thing that might otherwise cause you great trouble and time, you will place yourself in a position to record a great many things that do not last long. Nature rarely repeats itself, and one does not always find oneself in the same state of mind. It is necessary to acquire all the facility possible, so you can immediately express yourself without hesitation. —– William Merritt Chase

Please follow and like us:

Albert Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt

By
Armand Cabrera

Albert Bierstadt was the greatest living American landscape painter for a brief period during the 1860’s and 1870’s. His paintings extracted prices ten times what other artists bargained for their work.
Born in 1830 in Prussia, Bierstadt’s family immigrated to the United States in 1832. Albert’s interest in art was rivaled only by his fascination with money. While still in his teens, Bierstadt contracted with artist, George Harvey, to create a traveling show of Harvey’s landscape paintings. Projected on a 15’ x 17’ theater screen, Bierstadt charged the patrons an admission of 25 cents with nightly showings.


In 1853, Bierstadt traveled to Düsseldorf for three years of art study. The trip was financed by his various business endeavors in the United States. While not formally enrolled in the academy, Bierstadt trained with some of the school’s American students, including Eastman Johnson and Worthington Whittredge.

Upon his return to the United States, Bierstadt organized his first trip to the Rockies in 1859. His skill at outdoor painting was unparalleled and he produced hundreds of studies in the field. Renting space in the now famous, “Tenth Street Studio”, Albert Bierstadt began work on his “Great Pictures”.

The “Great Pictures” were impressive theater events. Hundreds of people stood in line for the opportunity to view Bierstadt’s paintings. Admission fees were charged and the paintings toured many cities. Albert Bierstadt excelled in this world. All through the 1860’s and 1870’s, his ability to cultivate important patrons and his flair for self-promotion gave Bierstadt meteoric rise to the top of the art world.

His unprecedented rise begat the wrath of the art critics. This constant attack by the press and the rapidly changing tastes of the patrons and the American public contributed to the swift demise of Bierstadt’s art career. At his death in 1902, Albert Bierstadt was all but forgotten.

Albert Bierstadt’s significant contributions to American landscape art are unquestionable. His idealized and romantic views of an untamed continent are at the root of the American promise of opportunity.


Bibliography
Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West
Gordon Hendricks
1974

Albert Bierstadt Art and Enterprise
Nancy Anderson
Linda Ferber
1990

Please follow and like us:

Arthur Streeton

Arthur Streeton

(1867-1943)

by
Armand Cabrera

Arthur Streeton was at the forefront of a small group of Australian painters responsible for creating an Impressionist style in the 1880’s.

Born in a small town near Melbourne, Australia, Streeton worked as an apprentice lithographer and spent his free time painting and drawing around the area. Streeton was part of a younger generation of artists who admired the French Barbizon Painters. It was this direct approach to painting outdoors and recording contemporary life that attracted the young Streeton to the Barbizon School.


In 1886, while sketching near Melbourne, the Streeton met artists, Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin. This marked an important turning point in Streeton’s career. He was invited to join the other artists in their painting camp and began associations with them that would last for Streeton’s lifetime.

Streeton, Roberts and McCubbin organized the very first Impressionist show in Australia. Called the “9 by 5 Impression Exhibition”, the majority of the 183 paintings on display were sketches painted on cigar box lids measuring 9 by 5 inches. The subject matter was more personal than anything exhibited before and redefined the definition of “acceptable” art.

The years following this landmark show found Streeton broadening both his abilities and subject matter. In 1896, after a successful solo show, he decided to travel to Europe to seek greater fame and fortune.

Success in London greatly increased Arthur Streeton’s significance in Australia. On his return to Melbourne in 1906, Streeton received a hero’s welcome. His solo exhibitions were a financial success. Streeton returned to London in 1908 and married. He joined the Medical corps during WWI and was appointed as an official war artist. Streeton finally return home in 1920, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Arthur Streeton was acknowledged as Australia’s greatest landscape painter. In this position, he increasingly became an outspoken conservationist—denouncing the destruction of his beloved Australian landscape. In the final years before his death, Streeton’s paintings reflected an unflinching dedication to preserving the land he loved.

Bibliography

Arthur Streeton 1867-1943
Geoffrey Smith
National Gallery of Victoria

Golden Summers Heidelberg and Beyond
Jane Clark and Bridget Whitelaw
International Cultural Corporation of Australia

Quote

It seems an amazing thing to me that a community which is progressive and businesslike in so many ways, should suffer hundreds and hundreds of acres of valuable timber to be destroyed to facilitate some work of the moment when so little is gained from it.
Arthur Streeton
Please follow and like us:

Isaac Levitan

listen as a podcast on youtube
By
Armand Cabrera

Isaac Levitan’s art represented the culmination of Russian Landscape painting of the 19th century. His paintings go beyond depicting objective representations of nature; they are suffused with profound philosophical and social significance.

Isaac Levitan was born in 1860 in Kybartai, Russia (now Lithuania). His father moved the family to Moscow in the early 1870’s to seek greater fame and fortune. Isaacs’s mother and father died while he was attending the Moscow College of Painting. Only seventeen, Levitan became homeless. He stayed with friends and family and even slept in the empty classrooms of the college. His tuition was waived because of undue hardship.

Isaac’s teachers, Vasily Polenov and Alexei Sarasov, stressed the importance of working outdoors. Sarasov taught his students to “seek out in the most ordinary and commonplace phenomena the intimate, the infinitely touching and often melancholy features which are strongly felt in our native scenery and which evoke an overwhelming response in our soul.” This was a philosophy that the young Levitan would adopt in his own painting.

It was his ability to evoke the subtlest emotions in his landscapes that helped Levitan to convey the Russian landscape as no one else did. He is often associated with Russian Impressionism. Although he painted in an Impressionist manner, Levitan cannot be defined by this technique alone. It is this aspect that elevates his art from French Impressionism. The French school sought only to convey the fleeting effects of light and contemporary life without any deeper meaning.

Isaac Levitan was a friend of the writer, Anton Chekhov. Both men shared and nurtured a common view of nature and mankind’s place in it. They both used nature as a metaphor for human emotions in their art. It is an art of the psychological landscape; the landscape of mood and it has influenced generations of artists that have followed him.

In 1897, Levitan was diagnosed with a heart condition. Three years later, he died at the young age of forty.


Bibliography
Isaac Ilyich Levitan His Life and Work: 2 volumesAlexei Feodorov-Davydov
Mockba 1976

Isaac Levitan the Mystery of NatureAlexei Feodorov-Davydov
Parkstone/Aurora 1996

Isaak Levitan: Lyrical LandscapesAveril King
Phillip Wilson Publishing 2004

Quote

Can anything be more tragic than to feel the infinite beauty of your surroundings, to read natures innermost secrets and, conscious of your own helplessness, to be incapable of expressing those powerful emotions? -IsaacLevitan
Please follow and like us:

Dennis Miller Bunker

Dennis Miller Bunker

By Armand Cabrera

A student of Jean Léon Gérôme and William Merritt Chase, Dennis Miller Bunker was equally adept at academic portraits and open-air landscape paintings. By his death, Bunker had already established a mastery and sensitivity unmatched by most of his peers.

Born in 1861 in New York, Bunker grew up in Long Island as one of four children. At the age of fifteen, he enrolled in the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design where he studied for four years. Like most young, American artists, Bunker longed for European instruction, so in 1882 he left for the École des Beaux-Arts in France with a letter of introduction. Bunker studied at the École for two years under Jean Léon Gérôme.

Upon his return to America, Bunker immediately began exhibiting his works, winning a prize in the National Academy show in 1885. The next year, he moved to Boston and accepted a position as head of the anatomy and figure classes at Cowles Art School.
That same year, Bunker held his first one-man show at the Noyes Gallery. His 22 paintings included landscapes, still life’s, portraits and figure studies. He was introduced to Boston society and received commissions for portraits from influential patrons, including Isabella Stewart Gardner. It was through this mutual acquaintance that Bunker met John Singer Sargent. Sargent painted Bunker’s portrait, befriended him and greatly influenced his painting style. Bunker’s brushwork became more confident and his palette lightened—moving toward an Impressionist style.

Never comfortable in Boston, Bunker moved back to New York in 1889. His illustrious circle of artists and friends included Charles Platt, Abbott Thayer, Thomas Dewing, William Chase and John Singer Sargent. In 1990, Bunker showed his Impressionist paintings to mixed reviews. He won an award for a portrait in the same year at the Art Institute of Chicago and was asked to take over Chase’s classes in Brooklyn. In October, Bunker married Eleanor Hardy. A month later, he won a gold medal for the painting “The Mirror”, in Philadelphia. Bunker and his new wife traveled to the Hardy family home for the holidays. On Christmas day, Bunker complained of feeling chilled. He tragically died three days later at the age of twenty-nine.

Bibliography
Dennis Miller Bunker American ImpressionistErica E. Hirshler
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1994

American pupils of Jean Léon GérômeH. Barbara Weinberg
Amon Carter Museum 1984

QuoteIt is so easy to be smart in Art, so easy to catch this and that quality of the time or the taste, the frightful smug taste of the public-so easy to do all manner of tricks of sentiment- of lies that people love and hug and live with and praise.
-Dennis Miller Bunker

Please follow and like us: