About the Artist
William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), one of New York’s most prominent artists in the 1880s, surpassed all others in the use of pastel. In his adept hands, pastel’s chalky matter rivaled the authority of oil paint, though with greater receptivity to light and an unmatched velvety texture. Chase produced more than 100 pastels in the 1880s, increasing the visibility of the medium in exhibitions and promoting the technique with forward-looking artists of the day.
This poster is a reproduction of William Merritt Chase's Study of Flesh Color and Gold (1888) from the National Gallery of Art collection. Chase applied the pastel densely and vigorously, maneuvering the colored crayon as one would a brush loaded with oil paint. In keeping with the contemporary vogue for Japonisme, Chase adopted Japanese props, tilted the picture plane, and cropped the composition. Like Kitagawa Utamaro, Chase focused on the figure’s bare back, but added a modern sensibility to a traditional Japanese subject by placing the model in the extreme forefront of the composition.
- 24 x 18 inches