Who’s Who in William Merritt Chase’s “The Open Air Breakfast”

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William Merritt Chase, The Open Air Breakfast, c. 1888. Oil on canvas, 37 3/8 x 56 3/4 in. Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her father, Maurice A. Scott

“If Mr. Chase had never painted any other picture, this one alone would place him on the highest plane of American painting. The exquisite mastery of the entire situation, the complete harmony, quality of the colour, the unity—everything combines to label it a great performance.” —W. H. de B. Nelson, 1916

In this verdant garden oasis, a counterpart to the open air Sunlight and Shadow painted a few years earlier, William Merritt Chase presents an autobiographical glimpse into his life as a newlywed and father. The painting is set in the backyard of Chase’s parents’ Marcy Avenue home in Brooklyn, where he and his wife had moved in 1887 in anticipation of the birth of their first child, Alice (“Cosy”). Chase’s wife appears seated at the table beside baby Cosy in the high chair. Standing in front of the screen is Chase’s sister Hattie; Chase’s sister-in-law Virginia lounges in the hammock. In a manner akin to his studio ensembles, Chase builds up the scene through color harmonies, layered surfaces, vibrant brushwork, and an array of objects and accessories from both the West and East: the Spanish shawl draped on the empty chair, the Japanese screen and cap, and the Dutch 17th-century hat. That Chase kept this painting until his death is testimony to its special meaning for him.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator

ArtGrams: Edible Art

Tryst_patricklisko

Photo: IG/patricklisko

In this month’s ArtGrams, we’re sharing your mouth-watering photos from Tryst at the Phillips café. Share your photos in and around the museum for a chance to be featured on the blog!

Tryst_maggiemainxx

Photo: IG/maggiemainxx

Tryst_julietschwab

Photo: IG/julietschwab

Tryst_stirfrey

“All museums should have cafes like this,” says Instagrammer @stirfrey

Tryst_victoriadagli

Photo: IG/victoriadagli

Tryst_madalionthedandelion

Photo: IG/madalionthedandelion

Tryst_dcvikingthor

Photo: IG/dcvikingthor

Tryst_jkbee7

Photo: IG/jkbee7

ArtGrams is a monthly series in which we feature our favorite Instagrammed pictures taken around or inspired by the museum. Each month, we’ll feature a different theme based on trends we’ve seen in visitor photos. Hashtag your images with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.

July #Phillips95 Challenge: Dream Big

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Marc Chagall, The Dream, 1939. Gouache on paper, 20 9/16 x 26 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1942

This month’s #Phillips95 challenge celebrates Marc Chagall. Chagall was known for his highly expressionist and colorful paintings that combined elements of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism. He saw his work as “not the dream of one people but of all humanity.” While scholars have written endless volumes on him, we’re looking to you to simplify things!

YOUR CHALLENGE: When you look at The Dream, what is the one word that comes to mind? Comment on this blog post or any of our social media posts with one word you think best encapsulates the painting and be entered into a drawing to win a Phillips prize pack (including two tickets to the museum and goodies from the museum shop!).