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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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William Merritt Chase, American, 1849-1916

The Lone Fisherman
Oil on panel
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Preston Harrison; P.940.40


William Merritt Chase was one of the most influential American painters of his generation. His early studies in Munich in the 1870s were particularly formative, as were later trips to Europe that brought him into contact with the French impressionists. This broadly painted, sun-filled landscape depicts Chase’s father fishing along the canal in Shinnecock, Long Island, where Chase operated his important summer school for art from 1891 to 1902. Chase’s primary compositional interest in the work, however, would appear to be the dramatic depth of perspective created by the low vantage point and surging diagonal of the canal wall toward a high horizon. In his bold manipulation of space, Chase was indebted to the work of such European impressionists as Edgar Degas, who in turn frequently drew upon the compositional devices of Japanese prints. Through his instruction at his summer school, the Art Students League of New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and his teaching tours of Europe, Chase exerted a powerful influence on hundreds of students. Several eventually became leaders of American modernism, including Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, and Georgia O’Keeffe. This is one of several works that Los Angeles–based collector William Preston Harrison donated to Dartmouth. He had no direct ties to the College but became interested in its art galleries after hearing about Abby Aldrich (Mrs. John D.) Rockefeller’s donation in 1935 (her son, Nelson, had graduated from Dartmouth in 1930). In 1938, Harrison wrote to then gallery director Churchill P. Lathrop, “Mrs. Rockefeller had the right ideas—gave me my cue—so I took it up with Dartmouth.”

Last Updated: 4/17/09