William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)

Portrait of a Woman (Lady in Kimono), circa 1890

oil on canvas

21 5/8 x 17 1/8 inches

Description

Provenance:

[Sale: Sotheby’s, May 10, 1974, lot 183]

Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York

[Sale: Christie’s, May 23, 1979, lot 98]

Fenn Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico

John Hamilton, acquired directly from the above, 1979

By descent through the family to the present owner

 

Literature:

Ronald G. Pisano, The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase, Volume 4: Still Lifes, Interiors, Figures, Copies of Old Masters, and Drawings (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 144, F. 35, illus.

 

 

Beginning in the 1880s, William Merritt Chase created a number of works featuring women in Japanese kimonos, a subject he continued to explore until 1914. Chase used his wife, Alice Gerson, and his daughters, Alice Dieudonnee and Dorothy Bremond, as well as studio models as subjects in these works as well as studio models. While the sitter in the present example cannot definitively be identified, the dark hair and eyes of the subject in Portrait of a Lady (Woman in a Kimono) are reminiscent of Chase’s wife, his favorite and most frequent model.

 

Chase executed his “kimono series” in both oil and pastel often using additional Japanese objects such as screens, fans, or books of prints held by the models or visible in the background. Although these elements are found in Sprint Flowers (Peonies) (circa 1889, Terra Foundation for American Art), At Her Ease (circa 1889, private collection), A Comfortable Corner (circa 1888, The Parrish Art Museum), and The Open Japanese Book (circa 1900, Hevrdejs collection), in the current example the figure is posed against a neutral background. The closely cropped composition and bright red collar of the kimono further emphasize the expression of the sitter.

 

The dating of these works is difficult because Chase painted subject over several decades. Also, with the general titles Chase gave to these paintings, creating a definitive exhibition history is problematic. This painting does not appear to have been shown during the artist’s lifetime.[1]

 

[1] Ronald G. Pisano, The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase, Volume 4: Still Lifes, Interiors, Figures, Copies of Old Masters, and Drawings (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 144.