About this artwork
William Merritt Chase was one of the most influential painters in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. After an extended stay in Europe, which ended when he established his studio in New York City in 1878, Chase demonstrated his extraordinary versatility, painting portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes. His vigor as an artist was equaled by his long and successful career as a teacher: his classes at the Art Students League in New York and the Shinnecock Hills Summer School on Long Island attracted many students.
In the mid-1880s, Chase embarked on a group of plein-air paintings inspired by New York’s parks. Influenced by the brilliant colors and unorthodox compositional formats of the French Impressionists, he often countered a broad, comparatively empty foreground with a detailed background. In this painting, which probably depicts Brooklyn’s Tompkins Park, almost half the canvas is filled by the wide, empty walkway, which, with its strong diagonal borders, carries the eye into the composition. This swift movement into space is slowed by the woman on the bench, who appears to gaze expectantly toward someone approaching along the path. To the left, colorful flowers provide a contrast to the bare walk at the right. This informal, seemingly spontaneous work, capturing the sparkle, light, and activity of a summer day, testifies to the freshness and vitality that Chase brought to the painting of such scenes.
- William Merritt Chase
- A City Park
- United States
- c. 1887
- Oil on canvas
- Signed, lower right: "Wm M. Chase."
- 34.6 × 49.9 cm (13 5/8 × 19 5/8 in.)
- Bequest of Dr. John J. Ireland