The Young Orphan is one of William Merritt Chase’s boldest early compositions, exemplifying his experimentation with an abstract, expressive language of color and form. Chase likely found his model for the picture from the Protestant Half Orphan Asylum, located next door to his Tenth Street studio at 61 West 10th Street.
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”).
William Merritt Chase completed The Turkish Page during his student years at the Royal Munich Academy. As was common practice with the Academy’s students, he and his classmate Frank Duveneck arranged for a local boy to model for them in Chase’s Munich studio. Bathing the composition in shimmering reflections of artificial light and shadow,