At Home with William Merritt Chase

Chase_Hall at Shinnecock

William Merritt Chase, Hall at Shinnecock, 1892. Pastel on canvas, 32 1/8 x 41 in. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection. On view in William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master through September 11, 2016

One of William Merritt Chase’s finest interiors, Hall at Shinnecock (1892) is a glowing testament to the artist’s virtuosity as a pastel painter. In this resplendent scene of domestic leisure, Chase captures his wife and two of their children in the great hall of their Shinnecock home during the second season Chase taught at the Shinnecock Summer School of Art. During his visit there the next year, writer John Gilmer Speed was struck by how “the hall makes a picturesque entrance to the house and studio. It rises through both stories to the roof . . . Pictures and tapestries hang on the walls . . . As the front door opens to a visitor, an Aeolian harp tinkles a welcome till the door is shut again. Then the visitor sees that he is not in the conventional house, but in one designed for picturesque effects in furnishings.”

Hall at Shinnecock is also a brilliant homage to one of Chase’s favorite old masters, 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velázquez. Borrowing a pictorial device from Velázquez’s famous Las Meninas, Chase paints his own reflection in the mirrored doors of the black antique Dutch armoire at the far end of the room. Like the central Infanta Margaret Theresa, the turned head and intent gaze of Chase’s older daughter acknowledges the protagonist who lingers outside the physical space of the painting.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator

Celebrate Sketching on National Notebook Day

Degas_side by side

A page from Rebecca Kingery’s notebook (left) next to Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s “Melancholy” (right)

It’s National Notebook Day! For some that means writing, for some that means drawing. In response to a former Phillips employee’s drawing that we shared last week, several of you sent in pages from your own sketchpads. Celebrate notebooks today and share more of your creations!

The Palm_side by side

Bud Wilkinson’s rendition of Pierre Bonnard’s “The Palm” at left; the painting in The Phillips Collection at right

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Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Untitled (EK 927)” at left; Rebecca Kingery’s sketch at right

Monet in the Morning


Claude Monet, Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning), 1897. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1959

I’ve always been a day dreamer, often getting lost in my thoughts as I fail to finish my homework. In my mind appears landscape after landscape, ranging from my home country, France, to vistas from remote places around the globe. Although my window allows me to see outside, I long to see a different view than the office building across the street. For this reason, if I could choose one painting from the Phillips to hang in my bedroom, it would be Claude Monet’s Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) (1897). The cliff side in this work can be seen as an allegory for my longing to travel: showing me the horizon of possible destinations from my bed or desk. On rainy or foggy days, its palette brightens my room; the soft yet bright colors of the painting reflect around my walls on sunny days. Val-Saint-Nicolas serves as a window to a parallel universe where I can let my mind wander as the cliff and rocks come to life, adorned with multicolored flowers. The gentle brushstrokes produce a soporiferous effect on me and sleep comes easily.

Of all the paintings in the Phillips, the only one I would want hanging in my bedroom is this one, which produces the utmost calm in me, soothes me, and allows me to be in connection with my senses.

Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern