Shinnecock summer school of art

DEFINITION

A school dedicated to plein-air painting organized and opened in 1891 by William Merritt Chase in the Shinnecock Hills of Southampton on the east end of Long Island. The school, whose location was known as Students at the Art Village, lasted for twelve years and was the first major out-door art school in America. It was a pleasurable place for his many students to get away from the hot summers in New York City and also brought income to Chase who struggled financially during some of these years. The area was known for its beaches and dunes and conducive to Chase???s interest in plein-air painting, especially atmospherics. Reportedly a daughter once ran to him shouting "Papa come quickly; here is a cloud passing for you." In addition to landscapes and genre scenes, many of them with family members as models, Chase and his students painted Native Americans who occupied a nearby reservation. Chase???s large family, some serving as models for him and his students, stayed nearby in Southampton, a town that continues today to be an art colony. The Chase family home was designed by New York architects McKim, Meade and White. Open-air classes conducted by Chase attracted many curious observers. Once a week, he held public critiques that sometimes became loud and confrontational when he expressed strong disapproved of a painting. Reportedly he shouted at a student, who said her canvass expressed the way she felt, ???the next time you feel that way, DON???T PAINT.??? He repeatedly urged his students to keep their eyes open, ???to be free and vigilant observers???. Fortunately for posterity, his wife Alice was a dedicated photographer whose surviving photos document many scenes of life at the Shinnecock Summer School. Well-known artists who studied there include Alson Skinner Clark, Alice Schille, Rockwell Kent, Gifford Beal, Elizabeth Strong, Charles Hawthorne, Arthur Burdett Frost, Ellen Rand, Rhoda Nicholls, Lydia Emmet, Gaines Donoho and Julian Onderdonk. Sources: Prudence Peiffer, ???William Merritt Chase???, ???Plein Air??? magazine, July 2005; William Gerdts, ???American Impressionism???; AskART database.

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