A Portrait of Texture

William Merritt Chase, The Turkish Page (Unexpected Intrusion), 1876. Oil on canvas, 41 1/4 x 37 1/8 in. Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of the John Levy Galleries, 1923

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, Chase captures the boy dressed in exotic Turkish costume feeding a cockatoo from a shiny copper bowl. The artist’s choice of accessories, from the hanging patterned textile, to the plush red velvet blanket and striped leopard rug, reveal his early talent for the illusionistic depiction of shiny surfaces and layered textures, qualities that became the hallmarks of his mature style. Moreover, the painting anticipates Chase’s developing appetite for collecting and adorning his studio with a vast array of objects, as seen in his Tenth Street studio paintings.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator

Whistler and Hopper, Graffiti-Style

Kelly Towles and dogs

Artist Kelly Towles and his dogs in his studio. All photos courtesy The Phillips Collection

Last week, DC-based artist and long-time Phillips fan Kelly Towles brought some of the masterworks from Made in the USA into the 21st century—and gave them some attitude. Best known for his vibrant murals all around DC (think Toki Underground, DC Brau, U Street Music Hall) often featuring fantastical masked figures, Towles used spray paint and ink to add his signature street art style to reproductions of James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Miss Lillian Woakes (between 1890 and 1891) and Edward Hopper’s Approaching a City (1946). A limited number of t-shirts and totes with these images will be available in the museum shop in the coming weeks—stay tuned for more information.

We visited Towles’s studio to catch the artist at work:



hopper_two side by side

Towles adding to Edward Hopper’s Approaching a City


whistler_three side by side

Towles working on Whistler’s Miss Lillian Woakes


The final product by Kelly Towles