“Spring Flowers,” by William Merritt Chase is one of his most ambitious and significant pastels. Experimenting with pastels at a time when they were unpopular with other artists, Chase (1849 – 1916) used the delicate and challenging paints in this work’s unusually large format. “Spring Flowers” exhibits Chase’s mastery of mimicking rich oil paints with pastels. A tribute to mid-19th century American and European fascination with Japanese culture, the piece is replete with rich colors, delicate lines and an idealization of pure beauty.
An American leader of Impressionist landscape painting, William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916) was also a brilliant portrait and still-life artist. The leader of several artistic societies, he taught future icons Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper and Rockwell Kent. Chase was a trendsetter who introduced European styles to American artists. A master of mimicking rich oil paints with pastels, he could expertly paint numerous subjects. Chase’s contemporary Impressionist works significantly impacted the acceptance of modern styles in late 19th-century America.