Arts Everyday Living: Last Days of Summer–A Gift of Exquisite Perfection, Impressionist Roses

William Merritt Chase, Roses, c. 1883, pastel on paper, 13 x 11 3/8 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz, 2014


Title: Roses

Artist: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916

Aren’t roses a special gift of summer, often blooming throughout the season? Depending on where you live, sometimes enduring into October and November, miraculously radiant even in the autumn. However, June is traditionally the peak period, annually designated as National Rose Month.

We only know the approximate year of  William Merritt Chase’s interpretation and not the month. Yet, does it matter? Created using the warm tones of pastels (a medium favored by contemporaries Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas), how can we can resist the delicate freshness of each unfolding flower, so sensitive to the human touch. The intricate pattern forming the precious floral centers, a symbol of the ingenuity of nature, that even experienced gardeners must work carefully to cultivate.


And here are some Fast Facts about William Merritt Chase:

A member of the American Impressionist group known as The Ten, organized in 1898.

Originally from Indiana, he spent most of his career in New York City and Europe. In addition, Chase was a respected teacher, his students including a young Georgia O’Keeffe, among a number of talented artists who would play a key role in  the U.S. art world during the twentieth century.

Chase led a flamboyant lifestyle and known for his exotic Tenth Street Studio, his debonair dress and bearing, as well his wolfhounds. He had a large family, the majority daughters, who often served as his models. Chase was famous for his landscapes, portraits, and still lifes.



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This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions), Smithsonian.

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