DescriptionWILLIAM MERRITT CHASE (American, 1849-1916)
The Red Kimona (Girl in Red) (The Artist's Daughter), circa 1908
Oil on canvas
33-1/2 x 28-3/4 inches (85.1 x 73.0 cm)
Estate of the artist;
Chase Estate Sale, 1917;
M. Knoedler & Co., New York;
Mary D. Keeler, Los Angeles;
Private collection, Massachusetts;
New York National Arts Club, "William Merritt Chase Retrospective Exhibition", January 5 - 13, 1910, no. 119, as Girl in Red.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, "Annual Exhibition", Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,1911, no. 564, as Girl in Red;
Detroit Museum of Art, "Paintings by William M. Chase, N.A.", March 1916, no. 17 (and traveling to The Toledo Museum of Art, April 1916, no. 117);
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, "Exhibition of Paintings by William Merritt Chase", November 3 - 30, 1922 (and traveling to the Cincinnati Museum, Ohio, December 1922; Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, January 13-February 1, 1923), no. 46, illustrated as Girl in Red (full-length).
R. Pisano, William Merritt Chase: Portraits in Oil, New Haven, 2006, vol. 2, pp. 236-37, nos. OP.496 & OP.496A, illus.
In 1868 Japan ended a long period of national isolation, and Japanese prints, ceramics, textiles, cloisonné, bronzes and other objects became more readily accessible to Europe and America. William Merritt Chase and his notable contemporaries James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent not only participated in, but fueled the vogue for, Japanese costume subjects in painting. Chase, whose studio was famously filled with a vast array of objets d'art including decorative tapestries, ceramics, glass, woodwork, and metalwork from around the world, was quick to add Japanese kimonos and fans to his collection. With the costumes ready in his studio, Chase produced an immensely popular series of portraits with models in kimonos throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Modeled by the artist's daughter Dorothy, The Red Kimona is a striking portrait from Chase's Japanese period. The contrast of the bright red silk kimono decorated with sparkling golden embroidery against a dense black background creates a dramatic flair. According to Ronald Pisano, Chase specifically chose a very coarse canvas, as he did with many of the large paintings of this period, "with the intent of using the heavy weave to break up the pigment, thereby giving the work something of an effect similar to that achieved by the Impressionists."
This painting was originally conceived as a full-length portrait measuring 78 ½ x 36 inches, which had powerful formal affinities with Whistler's famous paintings of women in Japanese garments-notably La Princesse du pays de la porcelain (Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). However, its mood is quite different. Whistler's women are more ethereal, ornamental, and emotionally inaccessible, while Chase's remain flesh-and-blood personalities, regardless of the costumes they put on. Even when he was working with the most evocative and impressionistic of means, Chase displayed his genius as a portraitist, for the personality always dominates the decoration.
The canvas of The Red Kimona was cut down at some point to its current size, likely after 1949. It was not an uncommon practice for the artist, as he was known to have cropped a number of large canvases to make them more modern-looking and more practical for private homes. The tradition continued after his death, often at the recommendation of artists in his immediate circle.
Other examples of the kimono series are The Kimono, c. 1895 (Private Collection), The Mirror, c. 1901 (Cincinnati Art Museum) and the stunning Girl in the Blue Kimono (The Blue Kimono), c. 1898 in the collection of the Parrish Art Museum.
Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000.
Good condition; wax relined, cleaned and revarnished; one tiny dot of in-painting in lower right corner.
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