William Merritt Chase’s Tenth Street Studio

The Tenth Street Studio, 1880 (oil on canvas) by Chase, William Merritt

William Merritt Chase, The Tenth Street Studio, 1880. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 48 1/4 in. St. Louis Art Museum, Bequest of Albert Blair

Celebrated as “one of the finest studios in the city,” William Merritt Chase’s lavish Tenth Street Studio brimming with a diverse array of objects, paintings, textiles, and bric-a-brac is brilliantly captured in this painting. Chase arranged the space of his studio with the same artistic eye for color, rhythm, and harmony that he imparted to his art. As he said, “A wall should be treated as a canvas is. Real objects take the place of colors.” This painting provides an expansive frontal view into the grand interior chamber of Chase’s studio, where we witness an exchange between a young woman and the artist. The white of the woman’s cascading dress on which rests the paw of Chase’s black Russian hound draws the viewer into the scene; off to her right, in the shadow, is her attentive interlocutor Chase with palette in hand to suggest that he is in the process of his craft. Whereas Chase’s presence is only implied in the other studio pictures, here he has inserted himself into the painting, thereby offering a glimpse into the way the studio was at once a place for art-making and a place to receive patrons, students, and friends.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator

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