If you’re planning a visit to Venice over the next couple of months, be sure to head to Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art, where you’ll find a major retrospective dedicated to the cosmopolitan American artist William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916).
On view until 28th May 2017, this highly-anticipated exhibition brings together almost sixty of the artist’s most significant works, including a number of beautiful views of Venice painted during his many visits to the city.
Born in Indiana in 1849, Chase was a leading figure in international artistic circles at the turn of the 20th Century; many Americans considered him to be their finest living artist, and many Europeans agreed.
Having trained in both New York and Munich, he applied the techniques of European artistry to American subject matter, producing luminous Impressionist views of Brooklyn cityscapes, Long Island beaches, leafy urban parks and intimate domestic scenes. Drawing inspiration from Dutch and Flemish artists such as Rembrandt and Van Dyck, he was also much admired for his striking portraits of the American bourgeoisie – many of which can be enjoyed in the current exhibition.
As well as working on commissions, Chase was a dedicated teacher, with students including Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe. During the summers he would escort his students on study trips to Europe, encouraging them to immerse themselves in the works of the Old Masters. Of all the European cities he visited, Venice was among his favourites; in 1877 he observed “I am perfectly delighted with Venice. It is the most artistic place that I ever was in”. Amongst the highlights of the exhibition are a series of Venetian vistas, including “A Venetian Balcony” (1913) painted from his room at the Hotel Gran Canal et Monaco, and an exceptional still life titled “The Yield of the Waters” (1878), depicting a collection of fish hauled in from the Venetian lagoon.
In recent years, Chase’s reputation has been largely overshadowed by the popularity of his contemporaries James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. However, this terrific exhibition offers a rare and long-overdue opportunity to rediscover his work and reassess his legacy as one of America’s most important and influential Impressionist artists.
PLUS: While visiting the Chase exhibition, allow extra time to explore Ca’ Pesaro’s permanent collection on the first floor. Built in the 17th century for the noble Pesaro family, the grandiose Baroque palazzo was bequeathed to the City of Venice in 1898, and has served ever since as home to the city’s municipal collection of international and Italian modern art.
Spanning numerous art movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, the collection ranges from Expressionism to Surrealism, Pop Art and beyond; don’t miss masterpieces by European greats including Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall and Joan Miro’, as well as radical abstract works by post-war Venetian artists Giuseppe Santomaso and Emilio Vedova.