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William Merritt Chase

Born: 1849, Franklin, Indiana, United States of America
Died: 1916, New York, New York, United States of America

The Olive Grove
c. 1910

Oil on canvas mounted to wood panel
Image: 23 1/2 x 33 1/2 in. (59.7 x 85.1 cm)
Frame: 31 1/2 x 41 3/8 in. (80.0 x 105.1 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.25
Signed: Lower right: WM. M. Chase verso: Chase
Artist Name: []

Interpretation

The Olive Grove pictures a sun-dappled summertime scene near William Merritt Chase’s villa in Fiesole, near Florence, Italy. Olive trees, with their dark trunks and pale gray foliage, fill the right side of the composition; on the left, a rutted country road leads the eye into the distance, where the pale stucco façade and pink roof of a villa can be glimpsed through the trees. Near the center of the image, the red head-covering worn by a bent figure offers a bright note of contrast in a color scheme dominated by greens, pale blue, and lilac. The relatively pale palette, free brushwork, and thickly applied paint are characteristic of Chase’s late landscapes.

Chase’s vivid brushwork and attention to sunlight, the result of painting outdoors and directly on the canvas, are hallmarks of impressionism, the painting of informal, transient subjects with rapid, broken strokes to capture the vibrating reflections of light on surfaces. As an influential teacher, Chase was an important advocate of plein-air, or outdoor, painting, which he both practiced and taught during his summers in Italy between 1907 and 1911. The Olive Grove is one of many paintings of the hilly rural landscape surrounding Fiesole in which Chase captured the diffused light and soft shadow typical of the region. This painting probably was included in the 1912 exhibition in New York of works by the group known as Ten American Painters, several of whose members painted in a modified impressionist style.

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Provenance

The artist
Mrs. William Merritt Chase, New York, New York, 1916 (wife of the artist)
American Art Association, New York, New York, May 14–17, 1917, lot 367
Mrs. H. S. Reubens, New York, New York
Kennedy Galleries, New York, New York, 1976
Daniel J. Terra Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1976
Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1992

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Exhibition History

[possibly exhibited] Ten American Painters, Montross Gallery, New York, New York, 1912, no. 51 (perhaps as Old Olive Trees).

Twenty-first Annual Exhibition, Poland Springs Art Gallery, Poland Springs, Maine, 1915, no. 61. [exh. cat.]

Paintings of William Merritt Chase, Detroit Museum of Art, Detroit, Michigan; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, April 1–May 31, 1916, no. 138 (as An Olive Grove).

William Merritt Chase Memorial Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, February 19–March 18, 1917, no. 36. [exh. cat.]

Chase Centennial Exhibition: Commemorating the Birth of William Merritt Chase, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana, November 1–December 11, 1949. [exh. cat.]

American Paintings from the Collection of Daniel J. Terra, Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania (organizer). Venues: Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, June 5–July 17, 1977. [exh. cat.]

The Ten, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, November 11–December 31, 1977.

American Impressionism, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (organizer). Venues: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, January 3–March 2, 1980; The Frederick S. Wight Gallery, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, March 9–May 4, 1980; Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois, May 16–June 22, 1980; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts, July 1–August 31, 1980. [exh. cat.]

Masterworks in American Art from the Daniel J. Terra Collection, Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois, April 27–September 12, 1985.

A Proud Heritage: Two Centuries of American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 21–June 21, 1987. [exh. cat.]

Selections from the Permanent Collection: Americans at Home and Abroad, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 6–29, 1987.

An American Revelation: The Daniel J. Terra Collection, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, February 28–October 1, 1988.

American Treasures: Chase, Whistler, and the Prendergasts, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 26, 1996–January 5, 1997.

The Decorative Form: The Aesthetic Movement, Arts & Crafts and the Asian Influence in American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, September 16–December 5, 1999.

Ville et campagne: les artistes américains, 1870–1920 (The City and the Country: American Perspectives, 1870-1920), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venues: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–July 15, 1999; Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1999–May 7, 2000 (in modified form). [exh. cat.]

American Impressionism from Great Lakes Museums, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan (organizer). Venue: Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 12–August 27, 2000.

Selections from the Permanent Collection: Two Centuries of American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, March 10–July 1, 2001.

Collection Cameo, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, May 2001.

D'une colonie à une collection: le Musée d'Art Américain Giverny fête ses dix ans (From a Colony to a Collection: Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Musée d'Art Américain Giverny), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, March 30–June 16, 2002.

A Place on the Avenue: Terra Museum of American Art Celebrates 15 Years in Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 16, 2002–February 16, 2003 (on exhibit extended run: November 2, 2002–March 2, 2003).

Copley to Cassatt: Masterworks from the Terra Collection, New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, and Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, September 5–December 7, 2003.

Midwestern Visions of Impressionism, 1890–1930. The Massillon Museum, Massillon, Ohio (organizer). Venue: Massillon Museum, Massillon, Ohio, May 26–August 19, 2007. [exh. cat.]

Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (organizer). Venue: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy, March 2–July 15, 2012. [exh. cat.].

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Published References

Twenty-first Annual Exhibition. (ex. cat., Poland Springs Art Gallery). Poland Springs, Maine: Poland Springs Art Gallery, 1915. Ill. no. 61, frontispiece (black & white as Olive Grove).

Loan Exhibition of Paintings by William M. Chase. (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1917. No. 36, p. 19.

Milgrome, A. D. The Art of William Merritt Chase. PhD dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 1969. No. 104, p. 22.

The Magazine Antiques 110:4 (October 1976): 654. Ill. p. 654 (color).

Apollo 104 (October 1976). Ill.

Driscoll, John Paul. American Paintings from the Collection of Daniel J. Terra. (exh. cat., Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University). University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University, 1977. Ill. (black & white).

The Ten. (exh. cat., Art Museum of South Texas). Corpus Christi, Texas: Art Museum of South Texas, 1977. Ill. p. 25.

Gerdts, William H. American Impressionism. (exh. cat., Henry Art Gallery). Seattle, Washington: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1980. Text pp. 25, 129 (checklist); ill. p. 21 (color).

Sokol, David M. "The Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois." The Magazine Antiques 126:5 (November 1984): 1156–69. Pl. XII, p. 1161 (color).

Atkinson, D. Scott et al. A Proud Heritage: Two Centuries of American Art. Edited by Terry A. Neff. (exh. cat., Terra Museum of American Art). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1987. Pl. T-73, p. 182 (color).

Gerdts, William H. Ten American Painters. (exh. cat., Spanierman Gallery). New York: Spanierman Gallery, 1990. Fig. 68, p. 53 (black & white).

Gerdts, William H. et al. Lasting Impressions: American Painters in France, 1865–1915. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1992. Text p. 77; fig. 73, p. 77 (black & white).

Gerdts, William H. et al. Impressions de toujours: les peintres américains en France, 1865–1915. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1992. Text p. 77; fig. 73, p. 77 (black & white).

Pisano, Ronald G. Summer Afternoons: Landscape Paintings of William Merritt Chase. Boston, Massachusetts: Bulfinch Press, 1993. Ill. p. 137 (color).

Cartwright, Derrick R. The City and the Country: American Perspectives, 1870–1920. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1999. Text p. 23 (checklist); ill. p. 41 (color).

Cartwright, Derrick R. Ville et campagne: les artistes américains, 1870–1920. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1999. Text p. 23 (checklist); ill. p. 41 (color).

Cartwright, Derrick. "The City and Country: American Perspectives 1870–1920." American Art Review 7:1 (January–February 2000): 100–11. Ill. p. 111 (color).

Hofelt, Miranda. The Olive Grove, William Merritt Chase. Collection Cameo sheet, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, May 2001. Ill. (color).

Shearer, Christine Fowler and Dean A. Porter. Midwestern Visions of Impressionism, 1890–1930. (exh. cat., Massillon Museum). Massillon, Ohio: Massillon Museum, 2007. Text p. 73 (checklist); fig. 2, p. 5 (color).

Bardazzi, Francesca and Carlo Sisi, editors. Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists. (exh. cat. Fondazione Plazzo Strozzi). Venice, Italy: Marsilio, 2012. Text, cat. no. 60, p. 239–40, ill. cat. no 60, p. 170 (color).

Smithgall, Elsa, Erica E. Hirshler, Katherine M. Bourguignon, Giovanna Ginex, and John Davis, William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master. (exh. cat., The Phillips Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, and the Terra Foundation for American Art). With a foreword by D. Frederick Baker. Washington, DC: Phillips Collection; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. Text pp. 221 (checklist). Ill. p. 193, plate 82 (color).

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