Category Archives: European Art

Rembrandt van Rijn – 17th Century Dutch Master

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July 15, 1606 – October 4, 1669) is regarded as the greatest artist of Holland’s Golden Age and one of the most important in European art. A prolific painter, draftsman and etcher, his portraits and artistic interpretations of the Bible remain unique. By the end of his life, Rembrandt had produced over 600 paintings (including nearly 100 self-portraits), around 400 etchings, and 2,000 drawings.

Rembrandt was born in Leiden, the Netherlands, the fifth son of a miller. Despite coming from a relatively modest family, his parents attached great importance to education, and Rembrandt began his studies at the Latin School. At the age of 14, he was enrolled at the University of Leiden. But the program did not interest him, and he soon left to study art first, a three-year apprenticeship with a local master, Jacob van Swanenburgh, and then, in Amsterdam, with Pieter Lastman, a local master known for his historical paintings.

Under Lastman’s tuition, Rembrandt became exposed to works of Caravaggio and the Italian masters. His interest in religious and mythological subjects was most likely a result of Lastman’s influence. After six months, and having mastered everything he had been taught, Rembrandt returned to Leiden, where he was soon so highly regarded that, although barely 22 years old, he took his first pupils.

In 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam and settled there permanently. He became a leading portrait painter and received many commissions for portraits as well as for paintings of religious subjects. His works were characterized by his mastery of chiaroscuro – the theatrical use of light and shadow. He used luxuriant brushwork and rich colors, generous flesh tones, and a lively presentation of subjects that lacked the formality favored by his contemporaries.

Of all the Baroque masters, it was Rembrandt who evolved the most revolutionary technique. By the mid 1630s he had abandoned the conventional Dutch smoothness and his surfaces were thick with paint. From the Venetians he learned to use a brown ground but despite a palette that was limited even by 17th century standards, he was renowned as a colorist, combining tones of light and shade with vibrant colors.

In 1634 Rembrandt married Saskia van Uylenburg, the beautiful cousin of a successful art dealer and the model for many of his paintings. He was, by then, a wealthy, respected citizen, and in 1639 he purchased a large house (now the Rembrandt House Museum) in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam. This was the period in which he painted masterpieces such as ‘The Blinding of Samson’, and his most celebrated painting ‘The Night Watch’, a group portrait of one of the city’s militia companies. His studio was filled with pupils.

Rembrandt’s family life however was not so successful. Saskia died in 1642, a year after the birth of their son, Titus. His affections then turned to his housekeeper, Hendrickje Stoffels, who modeled for him and bore him a daughter. And despite his financial success, Rembrandt lived expensively, and was declared bankrupt in 1656. He was forced to sell most of his paintings as well as his house and printing press. Eventually, he opened an art shop with Hendrickje and Titus.

Rembrandt’s new poverty had little effect on the quality of his work however, even if they did become more somber. Some of the great paintings from this period are ‘The Jewish Bride’, ‘Bathsheba’, and ‘Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph’.

Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje and his son, and was buried in an unmarked grave in the vicinity of Amsterdam, in 1669.

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William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter

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American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase was born on November 1, 1849, in Williamsburg, Indiana.

His parents had six other children after his birth. William’s father, a businessman, decided to re-locate his family to Indianapolis in 1861, when Chase was twelve. In Indianapolis, the young man was hired by his father to be a salesman.

www.segmation.comChase’s artistic talent was not necessarily nurtured in his childhood. He received early training from Jacob Cox and Baton S. Hays, artists who were self-taught. Though Chase had very humble beginnings, studying under non-notable teachers, he would mature to become a famous impressionist painter.

William Merritt Chase joined the army only to be encouraged by his teachers to seek further artistic training. He received this advice, and in 1869 moved to New York to study with Joseph Oriel Eaton. Soon after, he began studying at the National Academy of Design. Lemuel Wilmarth, pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme, taught Chase during his time at the National Academy.

Although he grew rapidly under the tutelage of excellent art instructors at the National Academy of Design, Chase moved to St. Louis in 1870 to help support his financially struggling family. He did this by selling still life paintings. While in St. Louis, he was involved in the local art community. He won prizes and awards for the excellence of his works. The time spent in St. Louis was something of a springboard for Chase’s career, as it gave him an opportunity to exhibit his works and showcase his rare talent.

Chase’s artistic talent was evident to all, including the elite and upper class of St. Louis. These wealthy individuals favored Chase and provided a way for him to live in Europe for two years. Their only stipulation was that he would provide them with paintings and assist them in obtaining the European art they desired for their collections.

www.segmation.comThe burgeoning artist’s two years in Europe were excellent for his stylistic development. He enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and was privileged to be a student of Karl von Piloty and Alexander von Wagner. During his time in Munich, Chase sought out friendships with other American artists, including Joseph Frank Currier, Frank Duveneck, and Walter Shirlaw.

While in Munich, William Merritt Chase began to experiment with his artistic style. He painted figurative works in the “loosely-brushed style popular with his instructors.” His painting titled “Keying Up” is an example of his work from this time period (1876). Chase was later awarded a medal for “Keying Up” by the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.WMC001thumb

In 1878 Chase moved to New York and began teaching art. A few years later, in 1886, he married Alice Gerson, whom he had eight children with. Alice, along with two of Chase’s daughters, frequently posed for him.

William Merritt Chase established and instructed at the Shennecock Hills Summer School in 1890. It was at this school, located in New York, that he taught the “plein air method of painting” (meaning he taught his students out of doors). The Chase School of Art was opened in 1896.

His ability to excellently paint many different subjects was one of the defining talents of Chase, the artist. Throughout his life he regularly painted portraits, landscapes, studio interiors, figures, cityscapes, and still life pictures.

On October 25, 1915, the world lost a painter who had contributed much to society. William Merritt Chase passed away in his Town House in New York. He died a well-respected, highly esteemed artist and teacher.
Chase’s New York studio and home (now known as the William Merritt Chase Homestead) are both part of the National Register of Historic Places. Chase is an example of an artist who worked with integrity and relentlessly developed his talent. He is still celebrated to this day.

William Merritt Chase established a school for artists known as the Chase School. He played various roles in his life including an artist, teacher, father, and sophisticated cosmopolitan. Although he worked with all media, he was most talented in oil painting and pastel, as well as watercolor.

He is best known for his portraits, who sitters included important people of the day and also his family members. Locations including Prospect Park, Central Park in New York City, and Shinnecock Hills on Long Island were popular locations for his outdoor paintings.

Patterns includes several self portraits, and numerous portraits including Portrait of a Lady, lady in Pink, Lady in Black, The Blue Kimono, Girl in Red Embroided Jacket, The Mandolin Player, Still Life Fish, At the Seaside, Azaleas, Girl in Japanese Costume, Portrait of Miss Dora Wheeler, and Portrait of Louis Betts.

Do you have a favorite Impressionist Painter? If you could paint an impressionist painting, what color would you choose? Share with Segmation by leaving a comment below.

Sources:

http://www.nga.gov/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Merritt_Chase

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