Friends & Associates
Harry Chase's close friends and professional colleagues were a Who's Who of 19th Century American Art.
From the beginning of his career as a young artist in the American Midwest, Harry Chase was associated with the finest artists of the Gilded Age. A friendship with William Merritt Chase was kindled when the two men first met one another in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1870, well before either had made a name for himself. Both having studied at the National Academy of Design in Manhattan under Lemuel Wilmarth, they shared a intense desire to study in Munich. In the summer of 1872, they journeyed together to Munich to study at the Royal Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts. While that early friendship does not seem to have remained close, their paths continued to cross in the decade after their studies in Munich, both becoming members of many of the same art clubs and societies, including the National Academy of Design, and they sent paintings to most of the same exhibitions during their careers.
The budding St. Louis art scene of that era produced several lasting friendships for Harry Chase. Paul E. Harney was another artist with whom Harry shared a particularly close bond. The two of them shared a studio with their early mutual master, James Reeve Stuart, and Harney would also end up in Munich for his studies. James William Pattison and Thomas Allen Jr. were two other young artists who orbited in the same circles in those early years, both travelling later to Europe for stints in Écouen where Harry's French master Paul Constant Soyer kept house and studio. Harry's brother-in-law, William Sylvester Eames, was a St. Louis artist before his career as a national architectural figure, and the two men shared a passion for the St. Louis Sketch Club. Among other members of the St. Louis Sketch Club with whom Harry closely associated were organizational phenom Halsey Cooley Ives, Louisiana Bayou painter Joseph R. Meeker, brewing king Ellis Wainwright, art writer William Romaine Hodges, and landscape artist William Lewis Marple.
While in Munich in the 1870s, Harry befriended Robert Koehler, later the Director of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts. Frederick Dielman, who was to become the President of the National Academy of Design, was also with Harry Chase in Munich in the early 1870s, both enrolling at the Royal Bavarian Academy of Fine Art there on the same day together. Likewise in Munich, Harry met and befriended Walter Shirlaw, who painted his portrait in 1872, and counted painter of Pacific Island natives Joseph Dwight Strong, and sculptor and architect John McNaughton Donaldson among his close friends in the "City of the Little Monk."
Many of this early coterie of artists to which Harry belonged took the necessary step of studying abroad to acquire the training necessary to bring American Art on par with that of Europe. The refinement they attained was unmistakably European, and their skillfully rendered works appealed to the tastes of the privileged classes of the United States. Their efforts helped established a market at home for American art, thus empowering a younger generation.
Take a look at the photos of his many friends on this page. They were the movers and shakers of the American Art World of the second half of the 19th Century. While many of his peers need no introduction and will be familiar to anyone who possesses even the most cursory knowledge of art history, Harry Chase warrants our recognition and deserves to be remembered.