Ca' Pesaro



    a painter between New York and Venice

    February 11 – May 28, 2017



Ca' Pesaro

WILLIAM MERRITT CHASE (1849-1916). A painter between New York and Venice


February 11 – May 28 2017
Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art


Set up at the Ca’ Pesaro second floor, the exhibition William Merritt Chase (1849-1916): a painter between New York and Venice, puts in the right perspective a protagonist of the international artistic scene between the 1880s and the first decade of the 20th century.

The exhibition, divided in eight sections, follows a thematic path which would document the different themes realized by the American painter.

The first room hosts the work from the Munich period, portraits of young boys immersed in a dark palette, influenced by the lessons of Karl von Piloty, professor at the Munich Royal Academy, and from the study of the old masters. Among these works there is a selection of painting realized during his Venetian sojourn (1877-1878), in which the particular lagoon light, characterizes views and portraits which gives with realistic feel the city life.

The exhibition follows Chase in his return in America, inside his New York studio, place of interaction and network, richly decorated with an heterogeneous collection of works and objects. Mixing European and Oriental influences. Following the fashion kimonos and fans, screens and prints are included in a series of works in which the artist gets assumes motifs and elements from the Japanese culture.

On the walls of the Ca’ Pesaro hall, the large portraits of his wife, Alice Gerson Chase, and his students. The women portrayed opens a new season where the feminine world sees the progressive emancipation of their social role. Portrayed following the portraiture, they presents themselves fierce in front of the visitors, embodying a new American type of beauty and independence.

The familiar world shows up in the following room, with intimate scenes where the artists portrait the maternal role of his wife and the playing moments of his daughters.

From the home atmosphere we go out in the green spaces and in the resort …, places of relief of the bourgeoisie. This series of park views and marine landscapes prove the assimilation of subjects and technique of the Impressionism, translate in a personal language that would have a profound influence on the American painting.

At the bright luminosity of the marine landscape it follows the dark palette of the still lifes. Reflexes and … vivid the big compositions, enchanted with big and rich frames.

The last room gives homage to Florence and Venice. The bright colors of the American beaches reaches here a wide saturation almost to catch the beauty and the vitality of the Tuscan landscape.

En plein air views of Venice, locations in 1913 of his last summer course in Europe, are characterized by loose brushstrokes, testifying the evolution of the artist’s representation from life, taking in consideration the academic concepts and a vision free from orders, expression of the pure painting pleasure.

The figure of Chase is fundamental to interpret a key moment in the American artistic scene. He interprets the secular European tradition in a figurative language that becomes a model for new generations, before the arrival of the avanguardes, coming in American from the Old World with the Armory Show of 1913.


Scientific direction
Gabriella Belli

Curated by
Elsa Smithgall, Erica E. Hirshler, Katherine M. Bourguignon, Giovanna Ginex