William Merritt Chase
Portrait of Miss B.
80,000 - 120,000 USD
Property from the Richmond Art Museum, Richmond, Indiana
William Merritt Chase
1849 - 1916
Portrait of Miss B.
signed indistinctly * M. Chase (upper left)
oil on canvas
canvas: 71 3/4 by 36 inches (182.2 by 91.4 cm)
framed: 81 by 45 inches (205.7 by 114.3 cm)
Painted circa 1903.
The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc., New York, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's:
This work has been lined with a non-wax adhesive. The paint layer is stable. The painting seems to be clean.
There are numerous retouches throughout the figure. They are more isolated in her face, where there are only a few spots added in the shadows of the nose, cheek and around the eyes. There is a group of retouches in her shoulder addressing some thinness, which extend into her chest. There is a group of retouches in her left bicep. There are extensive retouches in her hips and through the center and left side of the dress. The paint layer seems to have been intentionally scraped by the artist himself here, but it seems that weakness had developed which required retouching. There is no retouching along the ruffles on the bottom of the dress or in the right side of the dress. The background around the figure seems to be in very good state. There is evidence under ultraviolet light that this area may not have been fully cleaned, but there are no indications of any restoration beneath an old varnish.
The work should be hung in its current state.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
According to Richard G. Pisano, "William M. Chase painted the present work in his Shinnecock Hills studio in Long Island during the first decade of the twentieth century (this according to Mrs. Chase in testimony dated November 25, 1925). Miss Bellemy had been a student of Chase's in his Shinnecock Summer School of Art, which operated from 1891 to 1902. Chase had completed at least one demonstration piece in the summer of 1902 (Portrait of Miss Bellemy [Miss Bellemy]; OP.366) using Miss Bellemy as the model. Unlike the demonstration piece of Miss Bellemy, which was bust-length and signed with the less formal 'Chase,' her portrait was created for exhibition and therefore was full-length and much more finished. Although this painting is most likely the same work Chase exhibited as Miss Bellemy at the Knoedler and Company exhibition in 1903, he thereafter gave it the more generalized title of Portrait of Miss B. for more important shows. In doing so, Chase minimalized the significance of the identity of his model, shifting the focus instead to the aesthetic values of the work. Unlike the formally posed society portraits of the period, Chase here sought to cultivate a more naturalistic, 'modern' image, which he achieved by presenting his model in a candid manner as she turns to acknowledge the presence of the artist (or viewer) while continuing to adjust her glove. The fold in her dress underscores the immediacy of the action. The gentility and strong character of the sitter constituted something of a trope in Chase's portraiture, a 'type' that he identified as typically American.
In 1909, in connection with its appearance in a traveling exhibition, the painting was described (under the mistaken title Portrait of Miss E.) as 'a beautiful full-length portrait of a lady in a light canary-colored dress, standing, in the act of buttoning a glove') Academy Notes [February 1909]: 149). Miss B. is included on Peat's 1949 checklist as Woman in White, and as being owned by the Fort Worth Museum of Art, Texas" (as quoted in William Merritt Chase: Portraits in Oil; The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006, vol. II, p. 197).