Born in Johnson County, Indiana, on November 1, 1849, William Merritt Chase studied art in nearby Indianapolis with B. F. Hayes, J. O. Eaton and A. Wagoner. In 1870, he continued his studies at the National Academy of Design in New York. Between 1872 and 1877, he traveled to Europe, where he studied at the Royal Academy in Munich and then visited Venice for nine months with artists Frank Duveneck and John Henry Twachtman. Chase returned to live in New York in 1878.
William Merritt Chase taught at the Art Students League, from his 10th Street studio, the Brooklyn Academy of Art, the Chase School of Art [re-named New York School of Art, in 1898] and may other institutions throughout his life. He was a influential teacher to a whole generation of students who later became well-known artists in their own right, including Kenneth Hayes Miller, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Charles Sheeler, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper. In 1902, he was elected to become a member of “The Ten,” a loosely knit organization of artists who regularly exhibited together. This group of artists came to be regarded as a kind of academy of American Impressionism.
William Merritt Chase died on October 15, 1916. Chase is represented in many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Terra Museum of American Art, National Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Rhode Island School of Design, Cincinnati Museum and many leading private and college collections. He is considered one of the most talented of the American impressionists.