William Merritt Chase’s Atmosphere at the Tenth Street Studio Building

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  • Topic: American Impressionism, William Merritt Chase, Impressionism
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  • Published : May 26, 2013
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William Merritt Chase’s Atmosphere at the Tenth Street Studio Building “I intend to have the finest studio in New York,”1 William Merritt Chase stated to friend William S. Macy while visiting Venice. Chase then continued to purchase a number of antiques while traveling and studying in Europe when money was available. William Merritt Chase returned to New York and set up a studio at the Tenth Street Studio Building in 1878. At this moment in time at the Tenth Street Studio Building, tenants made up members of what is to become known as the Hudson River School—artists whose style and ideas are much diverse to that of Chase. In this essay I will explore the development of the Tenth Street Studio Building, marketing methods developed by many of the tenants of the Tenth Street Studio, and emphasize the innovations achieved by William Merritt Chase upon residing in his what became popular studio and the effect this had on the art ideals of the time and younger generations of artists. The Tenth Street Studio Building was developed from an idea by James Boorman Johnston who hired architect Richard Morris Hunt to develop the land purchased by Johnston at the North side of Tenth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in 1857. Annette Blaugrund describes the Studio Building in The Tenth Street Studio Building as a three-floor brick building that had studios that circled around a central gallery that would be used communally. Johnston intended this space to be used as a complete work and exhibition space for artists and proved to 1Cikovsky, Nicolai Jr. William Merritt Chase’s Tenth Street Studio, Archives of American Art Journal, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1976), p. 3 

be a progressive and successful idea for the time. Hudson River School artists such as Frederic Edwin Church, Jervis McEntee, and Sanford R. Gifford were connected to the Studio Building since its birth in 1856. The Studio Building was used as a place for artists of all kinds including writers, popular painters of the time, architects resided and met as a cultural center of the American art world. The Studio was a building where the artists could congregate and discuss the popular art of the time. Also, there held exhibitions collectively in the gallery where members of the community could come with the opportunity to move around the interconnecting studio rooms of the artists. Blaugrund discusses the artists of the studios as members of the National Academy of Design and the Century Association, two institutes that held dissimilar training and styles; the works of the artists of the studio affected each other’s work. She also goes to discuss that though the artists had dissimilar training, the artists all held a “common objective—to capture the art market.”2 Blaugrund discusses early marketing methods that developed during this time in the art world through that of tenants of the Tenth Street Studio Building. Selling work directly from the studio was key to artists. Every year, the Studio Building held receptions with music, food, and refreshments and invited people to view and purchase the art, as discussed previously. This method was a European that was popular of the times; it was a method of self-promotion that was vital to the artists of the building. In the early times of the Studio Building, the artists of residents held simply decorated studios. Many of the artists also found more opportunities to sell and promote their works, by developing outside relations. Other means to sell works were to exhibit at art organizations, auctions, and clubs. Residents of the Studio Building were leaders of 2 Blaugrund, Annette. The Tenth Street Studio Building : artist-entrepreneurs from the Hudson River School to the American impressionists / Southampton, NY : Parrish Art Museum , c1997.


major art organizations and also members of committees in the community. This gave many new, younger artists of residence the opportunity to exhibit with well-known artists (Blaugrund). Around...
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