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Highlights: Permanent Collection

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Image of Girl with a Book

William Merritt Chase
American, 1849–1916

Girl with a Book


Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American, New York
70 in. x 40 in. (177.8 cm x 101.6 cm)
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Accession Number: 1941.0021

Credit Line: Gift of Miss Louise Lyons Heustis

"Girl with a Book" was presented to MMFA in 1941 as a gift of Louise Lyons Heustis (American, 1865-1951), who was a student of William Merritt Chase. A newspaper account dated December 1, 1910 from the "Mobile Register" states that Heustis obtained the work, which Chase painted as a demonstration piece, as a prize. The model is unknown, but is most likely another of Chase's students. The Chase Archives has a photo of this work taken by the artist Frank Wadsworth, who was a student at Chase's Shinnecock Hills summer school in the summer of 1902, when it is believed that Chase made this work as an instructional exercise.

Chase embraced a method of rapid working as a replacement for the more staid European approach to portraiture. He argued and presented this point through “painting demonstrations” of works such as "Girl with a Book", which combined dark and luminous tonalities with the immediacy of vibrant brushwork. Dressing the model in a kimono is reflective of a fascination with Oriental imagery apparent in Chase’s work dating from the 1880’s.

American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 26, p. 84.

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