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

Alfred Munnings

Sir Alfred James Munnings

By
Armand Cabrera

Alfred James Munnings was born in England on October 8, 1878. He was the second son of John Munnings, a miller. Munnings left school at the age of 14 for a six-year apprenticeship with a firm of lithographers in Norwich. By day he excelled as a lithographic draughtsman. He studied painting at night. Although Munnings was offered a job after finishing his lithographers’ apprenticeship, he turned it down. Instead, he bought a carpenters shop and converted it into an artist studio. He supported himself through freelance poster work and the occasional sale of paintings. Within months of this decision, he tragically lost his right eye in an accident. However, the loss did not affect his determination to paint. In his autobiography, Munnings wrote of his difficulties. “I wasn’t allowed to use my right eye for months and when I went to paint my brush either hit the canvas before I knew it was there or was not touching it. Mostly it was the latter and I found myself making strokes in the air nearer and nearer until I touched the painted surface…”


Munnings would travel with his man, Bob, a gypsy boy called Shrimp and seven or eight horses, ponies, a donkey, a blue painted caravan and a cart for his painting materials—all would be his models. They would travel until suitable country was found and then spend weeks painting in the open air.

In 1918, Munnings became an official war artist with the Canadian Calvary Brigade. His painting of General Jack Seely on his horse became a turning point in Munnings career. Munnings was able to skillfully capture both the rider’s portrait as well as the horse. This led to many commissions and brought him money and fame.

In 1920, Munnings married Violet McBride. Violet was confident of her husband’s greatness as an artist and tended to all his business matters and promotion.

Over the course of his long career, 289 of Alfred Munnings’ paintings hung in the Royal Academy Exhibitions. He was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1947 and was knighted that same year. In 1949, his last speech as President caused quite a stir. He publicly excoriated members for practicing modern art. The affront was exacerbated by the fact that Munnings speech was broadcast live to millions of people. He was always brutally honest in his opinions and this speech was no exception.

Munnings died in 1959. His wish was that his paintings be left to the Nation to promote ‘traditional art’. Lady Munnings established their home, “Castle House”, as a museum. The house, studio, 40 acres of land and all of Munnings paintings in Lady Munnings possession were put into a trust and are now open to the public.

Bibliography
Sir Alfred Munnings
1878-1959
Stanley Booth

A.J. Munnings
An Appreciation of the Artist and a Selection of His Paintings

Stanley Booth

Quote
If a man sees right and can draw-every artist should draw, although fools say it does not matter today-he needs no photograph.

Willard Metcalf

Willard L. Metcalf

By
Armand Cabrera

Willard L. Metcalf was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1858. He began his art studies at the Lowell Institute and apprenticed to the painter, George Loring Brown. For the next few years, Metcalf illustrated articles on the Zuni and the Southwest for Century Magazine.

In 1883, with enough money earned from his illustration assignments, Metcalf traveled to France to study at the Julian Academie under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. After a few years in France, Metcalf slowly moved away from the painting style being taught in the Academie. He now embraced the Impressionist ideal that revered painting from life as the core of good painting. In 1888, Metcalf returned to America and prepared to mount a one-man show of 44 paintings—mostly studies executed in the open air style he adopted in Europe. While the show was praised critically, sales were low and Metcalf decided to leave Boston for New York.


In New York, Metcalf continued work as an illustrator and in order to provide a steady income, took portrait commissions. In addition, Metcalf taught at the Art Students League and Coopers Union.

In 1896, Metcalf won the Webb Prize from the Society of American Artist’s show. It was his last time exhibiting with this organization. Metcalf and his artist friends were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the crowded settings and selection standards of the organization. They felt the standards had dropped too low and were compromised. Metcalf and other notable artists resigned and formed, “The Ten American Painters”. “The Ten”, as they were referred to by the press, were Childe Hassam, John Twatchman, Willard Metcalf, Frank Benson, J Alden Weir, Thomas Dewing, Robert Reid, Edward Simmons, Edmund Tarbell, and Joseph De Camp. In 1905, William Merritt Chase was asked to join the group, replacing the now deceased, Twatchman. They were the embodiment of the American Impressionist movement. “The Ten” held yearly exhibitions until 1919.

Metcalf struggled for continued financial and critical success for most of his life. It wasn’t until late in his career that his unique vision of the New England countryside took hold with critics and profited him financially. Metcalf’s perception was thoroughly American and was appreciated for its naturalism.

Metcalf’s success as a painter lies in his ability to depict the landscape with honesty and fidelity. His New England scenes are an intimate glimpse of a totally American ideal. He stayed true to his artistic beliefs in a time when proponents of modernism sought to marginalize established forms of style. This focus helped him create a personal style whose roots were founded in the tenets of American Impressionism that lasts to this day.

Willard Metcalf died in 1925.


Bibliography
Sunlight and ShadowElizabeth De Veer and Richard J. Boyle
1987

Willard Metcalf Yankee ImpressionistRichard J. Boyle
Bruce Chambers
William H. Gerdts
2003

Quote
Go out and paint what you see and forget your theories.
-Willard Metcalf

Stanhope Forbes

Stanhope Forbes
1857-1947

By
Armand Cabrera

Stanhope Forbes was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1857. When he was eleven, Forbes began drawing at the encouragement of family friends who took him on sketching trips. In college, Forbes began studying under John Sparkes. Sparkes emphasized drawing from casts and models, as opposed to copying drawings by the masters. Forbes enrolled in the Royal Academy School and briefly studied under Millias, Leghton and Alma Tadema.


In 1880, Forbes traveled to France, enrolling in the studio of Leon Bonnat near Montmartre. In Bonnat’s classes, Forbes was trained to paint from life. However, Bonnat did not sympathize with outdoor painting that was becoming popular with the students at the time. By 1881, Forbes was working in Cancale with other students who revered painting outdoors. The sale of a figure painting to the Walker Art Gallery so inspired Forbes that he dedicated his career to outdoor figure work.

Forbes finished his two years of study in France and returned home to England where he was anxious to establish himself as an artist. He began searching for a picturesque village to paint. He settled on Newlyn in Cornwall. Artists had been visiting the coast of Cornwall for years. A recently built rail stop to Penzance, only a few miles from Newlyn, allowed artists to live in the area and still have easy access to London and their galleries. Because of Forbes’ financial and critical success, he was considered the leader of the Newlyn Colony.

In 1886, he became engaged to Elizabeth Armstrong—an artist who had come to Newlyn to paint the year before. They married in 1889.

Forbes fidelity to outdoor figure work required a Herculean effort. He did not believe in painting nature as is compositionally and so each painting required much planning.

One of his most successful works, “A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach” is 4 feet by 5 feet, with more than 26 figures. For this painting, Forbes had to contend with the challenges of weather and changing effects of light. To complicate matters, models were often unreliable.

Many of Forbes paintings were finished over months, not days, requiring the complexity equal to a movie set. To avoid losing precious time when the weather was inclement, Forbes painted interior scenes. Usually he was working on at least two paintings at the same time—one outdoor and one interior. His greatest successes came during the 1880’s and 1890’s. Forbes continued to paint Newlyn and its citizens for the rest of his life. He died in 1947 at the age of 90.


Bibliography
Stanhope Forbes and the Newlyn SchoolCaroline Fox
1993 David and Charles Publishing

The Good and Simple Life Artist Colonies in Europe and America
Michael Jacobs
1985 Phaidon Press

QuoteTo plant one’s easel down in the full view of all and work away in the midst of a large congregation needs a good deal of courage: but it takes even more to boldly ask some perfect stranger to pose for one under such trying conditions. But our principles demanded it and convinced of their virtue, I always strove to be consistent to them.
-Stanhope Forbes

John Carlson

John Fabian Carlson
(1875-1945)

By
Armand Cabrera

John Fabian Carlson was born in Sweden—the son of a tailor. The Carlson family immigrated to New York when John was nine. At fifteen, Carlson studied in the evenings with Lucius Hitchcock at the Albright School in Buffalo. He worked as a lithographer during the day to help support his family until he was 28. He then moved to New York, having received a one-year scholarship to attend the Art Students League. At the League, he studied with Frank DuMond. In 1904 Carlson won a prize to study with Birge Harrison at Woodstock.


When the Arts Student League opened summer classes in 1906 in Woodstock, Carlson recommended Harrison be hired as the schools first teacher. Harrison, in turn, hired Carlson as his assistant. Carlson remained Harrison’s assistant until 1910. Upon Harrison’s retirement, Carlson succeeded him as director in 1911. He kept the director’s job until 1918. He then served two years as co-director of the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado from 1920 to 1922. Carlson then returned to open the John F. Carlson School of Landscape Painting in Woodstock where he worked until his death in 1945. Carlson won many awards in his lifetime and was elected full Academician to the National Academy of Design in 1925.

Carlson’s romantic realism is still an inspiration to this day. He had the ability to organize and simplify nature in such a poetic and personal way that is beautiful to behold. His design and color sense only heightened the lyrical quality in his art. He had a special affinity for trees and forest interiors. Most of his large canvases were painted in the studio from smaller outdoor sketches. Carlson’s book, Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting, is the bible for beginning painters and serious professionals. His thorough, honest approach and clear ideas set forth in the book have trained many painters. The 75+ years the book has stayed in print has proven its veracity to continued generations of artists.

Bibliography

John F. Carlson N.A.
1874-1945
Exhibition Catalogs 1, 2, 3
Vose Galleries Boston, MA 1978, 1980, 1981

The Carlsons
Exhibition Catalog
Jim’s Antiques Fine Art Gallery
Lambertville, NJ 2000

Quote
We are all living in a neurotically impatient age, when everyone strains to attain to virtuosity without having had to do the accompanying labor. I repeat labor. For all great men have been prodigious workers: in fact, they appall us with their energy and enthusiasm. They challenge obstacles with something akin to fury, where a weak man would shun an effort. ~ John F. Carlson