Chase, William Merritt (attributed to a student of)
American, about 1860вЂ“1930
Oil on canvas
24 1/8 x 18 1/8 inches
Wichita Art Museum, John W. and Mildred L. Graves Collection
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
Silence, tranquility, and a sense of mystery pervade this very simple still life composition titled Still Life. But what is especially significant here is the strong geometry of the composition consisting solely of four basic geometric forms, viz. a cylinder, a circle, a rectangle and a sphere, so organized as to create a right triangle that cuts into the pictorial space at a slight diagonal and imparts a quality of mathematical purity and structural stability to the work.
Like many American artists during the closing decades of the 19th century, the artist found inspiration in the aesthetics of Japanese art forms including prints, wall hangings, pottery, fans, and the color patterns of Japanese batiks. That interest is clearly echoed here in the props selected as well as in the general decorative treatment of shapes and textures. Moreover, in this instance as in many of Chase’s compositions, the strong influence of Whistler, with whom he had become closely acquainted on a visit to London in 1885, can quite readily be seen in the mottled, seemingly shimmering space that encompasses the still life arrangement and in the subtle color harmony and the narrow range of delicate tones used throughout the composition.