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American Portraiture of the 18th and 19th Centuries
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19th Century Painters of 'High' Society

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) is known for his still lifes, portraits and landscapes. He experimented with open-air painting, leading him to be one of the first American artists to turn out "Impressionist" landscapes. Chase was the founder of various art societies and taught at several art schools, where his students included Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe. Chase established his reputation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His Portrait of Master Otis Barton and His Grandfather (1903) was donated to the Currier Museum of Art by Otis Barton, the young boy depicted in the painting. Otis Barton was also the grandfather’s name. He owned a very successful general store on Elm Street in Manchester, New Hampshire named Barton & Company. The quick, free brushwork and the use of contrasting hues reveal the influence of Dutch and Spanish portraiture. He studied the work of artists like Rembrandt, Velasquez and Goya during his travels through Europe.

Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951), largely known as an American Impressionist painter, painted American society at the turn of the century. Benson was born in Salem, Massachusetts, descending from a long line of sea captains and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In the early years of his career his studio works are mostly portraits of figures (many young women) set in richly appointed interiors. His Portrait of Margaret Fuller is of this style and setting. Painted and framed on an oval canvas, Benson depicts Fuller in a three-quarter view, with an outdoor scene containing trees, clouds and sky immediately behind her. Later works by Benson reflect a strong New Hampshire influence as he spent summers at the foot of Mt. Monadnock and on New Hampshire’s seacoast.




William Merritt Chase, Portrait of Master Otis Barton and His Grandfather, 1903
William Merritt Chase, Portrait of Master Otis Barton and His Grandfather, 1903
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Frank Weston Benson, Portrait of margaret Fuller, 1910
Frank Weston Benson, Portrait of Margaret Fuller, 1910
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