Terra Collection Initiative: William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master

William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master is the first retrospective exhibition on Chase in thirty years and presents the full breadth of the artist’s achievements over his four-decade-long career. Featuring more than 60 key works of art by Chase from collections in the United States and Europe, the exhibition sheds new light on the artist’s aesthetic philosophy, stylistic experimentation, and working methods. Providing a fresh reappraisal of the art of William Merritt Chase, the exhibition highlights the international context of his art and uncovers his contribution to modern art at the turn of the twentieth century. +

This examination of Chase as a renowned figure in the international art circles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries invites viewers to reevaluate his position as an eclectic artist, influential teacher, and promoter of American art. It is also an opportunity to recognize his role as a pioneering leader in the avant-garde circles at the turn of the century and to assert his sophisticated experimentation as one of his strongest virtues.

Organized chronologically and thematically, the exhibition traces Chase’s cosmopolitan career with a special emphasis on technical mastery through a variety of subjects. Works in oil and pastel from the Terra Foundation for American Art are presented alongside full-length portraits, landscapes and interior scenes. The exhibition is a four-way partnership among the Phillips Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, and the Terra Foundation for American Art and will reach broad audiences both in the United States and in Europe. It will open at the Phillips Collection, in Washington, DC, before travelling to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Ca’ Pesaro (Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia), in Venice, Italy.


Dates & Venues

June 4–September 11, 2016
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, United States
as William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master

October 9, 2016–January 16, 2017
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
as William Merritt Chase

February 10–May 28, 2017
Cà Pesaro, Venice, Italy
as William Merritt Chase (1849–1916): A Painter between New York and Venice

Works of Art from the Terra Foundation Collection


Smithgall, Elsa, Erica E. Hirshler, Katherine M. Bourguignon, Giovanna Ginex, and John Davis, William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master. With a foreword by D. Frederick Baker.  Washington, DC: Phillips Collection; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Related Content

Press release: “Terra Foundation Announces Internationally Collaborative William Merritt Chase Exhibition, First in More Than 30 Years,” Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, IL, June 1, 2016

Co-curator’s essay: Elsa Smithgall, “William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master,” American Art Review 28:4 (July–August, 2016): 48–55, 111.

The Phillips Collection

  • Exhibition review: Phillip Kennicott, “William Merritt Chase, modernist in moderation,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Mary Anne Goley, “What William Merritt Chase learned from Europe,” Apollo, June 14, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Stanley Meisler, “Restoring the portrait of an artist: How a new exhibition is giving William Merritt Chase his due,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Susan Stamberg, “Meet William Merritt Chase, The Man Who Taught America’s Masters,” NPR, June 28, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Dominic Green, “Green, Dominic. “The Body Eclectic: As artist and teacher, William Merritt Chase showed how American art could take its place within European tradition while breaking new ground for the future,” Art & Antiques 39:7 (Summer 2016): 88–93
  • Exhibition review: Zachary Reid, “The Phillips Collection hosts rare retrospective on William Merritt Chase paintings,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 2016
  • Exhibition review: Jason Daley, “Meet William Merritt Chase, the American Master Coming Back into Fashion,” Smithsonian.com, July 14, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Ari Post, “William Merritt Chase at the Phillips,” The Georgetowner, August 10, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Judith H. Dobrzynski, “‘William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master’ Review: Between Old and New,” The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Judith H. Dobrzynski, “Rewind: Another Look at William Merritt Chase,” Real Clear Arts: Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture, August 11, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Eric Kuhn, “Chase: Renowned Master of East End Light,” The East Hampton Star, August 11, 2016
  • Exhibition review: Aaron MacLean, “The Internationalist,” Review of William Merritt Chase: A Modern MasterThe Washington Free Beacon, August 12, 2016

Related Video

Exhibition co-curator Elsa Smithgall introduces William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master, on view at The Phillips Collection June 4 through September 11, 2016:

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