Having seen the family of William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) at leisure and play, this article shows a selection of the many portraits which he painted of his wife and their children.
Chase gained experience of family portraiture when one of his demanding professors at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Karl von Piloty, commissioned him to paint his children in about 1877. He seems to have risen to that task, and to have enjoyed maintaining a pictorial record of his own family later.
Alice Bremond Chase, née Gerson, (1866-1927)
Chase’s wife came from an artistic family, but was not herself a visual artist. She did become a keen photographer, and appears to have kept extensive photographic records of their growing family. She was Chase’s favourite model, and appears in various roles in many of his paintings, but these are some of the portraits which he painted of her.
A Spanish Girl (Mrs. Chase in Spanish Dress) (1886), when she was aged 20.
The Tamborine Girl (Mrs. Chase as a Spanish Dancer) (1886)
Mrs. Chase (c 1890-95), here aged approximately 26.
Mrs. Chase and Cosy (c 1895), when the mother was aged 29, and her daughter just 8.
Mrs. Chase (Portrait of Mrs. C.) (c 1902), aged 36.
Mrs. W.M. Chase and R.D. Chase (1916), when she was aged 50 and Roland Dana was about 16.
Alice Dieudonnée Chase (1887-1971)
Nicknamed Cosy, she became his favourite model as his wife’s family duties restricted her availability.
Alice (1892), when aged 5.
Portrait of Alice Dieudonnée Chase (c 1899), here aged 12.
Alice Dieudonnée Chase, Shinnecock Hills (c 1902), aged 15.
Alice Chase Sullivan (Mrs. Arthur White Sullivan) (c 1912), now aged 25 and married.
Koto Robertine Chase (1889-1956)
Although their second child, she does not appear much in Chase’s paintings.
Koto Chase (1899), when she was aged about 10.
Dorothy Bremond (1891-1953)
After his wife and oldest daughter, Dorothy was his next favourite model.
Dorothy and Her Sister (1901), when she was aged about 10.
Dorothy (Dorothy in Pink, Portrait of Miss Dorothy Chase) (c 1913), now aged about 22.
Of the two boys who survived their childhood, is was Dana, as he was known, who appeared in more paintings.
Roland Dana Chase (1905), when he was aged about 5.
Master Roland Dana Chase (1914), when aged about 14.
Hirshler EE (2016) William Merritt Chase, Museum of Fine Arts Boston. ISBN 978 0 87846 839 3.
Longwell AG (2014) William Merritt Chase, A Life in Art, Parrish Art Museum and D Giles. ISBN 978 1 907804 43 4.
Smithgall E et al. (2016) William Merritt Chase, A Modern Master, The Phillips Collection and Yale UP. ISBN 978 0 300 20626 5.