japonisme: chase

22 July 2007


william merritt chase was one of the most prolific of the western artists in presenting the 'stuff' of japan.

his landscapes often exhibited structures and layouts inspired by japanese work, but his portraits, with some notable exceptions did not.

In an earl[y] pastel, Shinnecock Studio Interior, ... in the Terra Foundation’s collection, Chase ... experimented with the motif of a child on the floor examining a book of Japanese prints arranged to lead the eye into the composition.

This book and the large Oriental vase on a stand anchoring the view on the right announce Chase’s sympathy with Japonisme, the European and American passion for all things Japanese that rapidly followed the opening of trade between Japan and the West in the 1850s. The tipped-up perspective and casual asymmetry of the composition indicate that Chase had absorbed more than a collector’s interest in Japanese aesthetics. 1

however, this is no exploitative fancy at japan's expense, but rather a love affair, like his friend whistler's, with forms, shapes, fabrics, patterns and designs that were new to him, and were inescapably lovely. and how better to celebrate that but to wrap in the beautiful goods and surround his most beloved people.

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Blogger harlequinpan said...

Excellent comment for these works!

23 July, 2007 03:43  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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