Category Archives: William Merritt Chase

Robert Henri – American Portrait Artist and Teacher

Tan Gam by Robert Henri

Tan Gam by Robert Henri

American artist Robert Henri had a mind of his own. Loyal to a fault and guided by his convictions, Henri was as great a leader as he was an artist. Throughout the course of his notable career, he defied traditional standards of art, pursing and promoting realism.

Robert Henri was born in Ohio and raised in Cozad, Nebraska. At that time this town bared his birth name: his father, John Cozad, founded the town when Robert was eight. Unfortunately, the entire family fled this area after an altercation resulted in John murdering a local rancher. Eventually they ended up – under the guise of alias names – on the east coast.

When the drama of childhood waned, Robert Henri completed his first painting. He was 18 years old. Enjoying the activity and appeased by his natural skill, Robert planned to attend Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1886. There, he came to appreciate the work of Thomas Eakins and the artist’s approach to realism. Henri continued to pursue his education by traveling to Paris where he attending Ecole des Beaux Arts. After his time there, he traveled Europe briefly before returning to Philadelphia where he began his career in art education.

Early in his career it became apparent that Henri was a born leader and a natural teacher too. It is said he inspired students by saying their art could be “a social force that creates a stir in the world”. Within a few years Henri was inspiring more than his students; he developed a following of aspiring artists as well.

During this time, Robert Henri was moving away from the impressionism that influenced his early work. He began moving towards realism, and encouraging other artists to do the same. This ignited a movement that urged American painters to pursue art with fresh perspective, making it okay for artists to express the world as they see it – not the idealized vision society wants see. The movement came to be known as the Ashcan School.

In 1898, Henri accepted a teaching position at the New York School of Art. Around this time, students, colleagues, and critics observed the passion he had for his craft. He was uninhibited by societal norms and blazed a trail for artists to express the realities of life.

Henri was admired and followed by many. In fact, he was elected to the National Academy of Design (a museum and school established to promote fine arts) for recognition of his artwork. Unfortunately, when the National Academy did not display the work of his colleagues at a show in 1907, Henri became disenchanted with the mainstream art world. He knew a bold move would be required to emphasize the importance of realism.

As a result, he set up an exhibition called “The Eight”. All featured work signified a break from traditional art perspectives of the time. In February 1908, five American artists put paintings on display at the Macbeth Gallery. Only once did they come together for this purpose; regardless, it left a lasting impression. It also propelled Henri to continue leading and promoting independent artists.

Robert Henri organized a number of art shows and exhibitions between 1910 and 1920. They included “Exhibition of Independent Artists”, jury-free exhibitions at the MacDowell Club, and the Armory Show. In addition, he continued his career as a teacher at the Art Students League between 1915 and 1927.

While Henri was a skilled artist, his natural gift as an influential teacher solidified his fame. He was effortlessly able to lead and organize people to pursue their passions. All the while, he prompted them to believe that art was a personal expression of a real world. In the book, The Art Spirit, one of Henri’s students compiled his works of art and detailed accounts of his thoughts on the subject.

When Robert Henri passed away in 1929, his influence lived on. In fact, it served as a bridge to usher in European modernism. More so, it inspired artists to reach levels of self-expression that had never been seen before. As an effect, realism came to life through the power of art.

The San Diego Museum of Art will be the first museum exhibition dedicated to the Spanish paintings of Robert Henri  from March 29, 2014 through September 09, 2014. Spanish Sojourns Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain consists of over 40 major paintings borrowed from important museum and private collections around the country. More information can be found at:  http://www.sdmart.org/.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Robert Henri’s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=RHR. Also, Segmation is proud to offer 44 digital Robert Henri patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 44 Robert Henri Patterns Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Sources:

National Gallery of Art

Robert Henri Museum

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

William Glackens – American Realist Painter

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter

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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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Coming soon: If you love art as well as technology, you won’t want to miss our upcoming blog post about word cloud portraits.

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