Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hard to find Sidney Chase

Sidney Chase (1877-1957) is a lesser known Brandywine Alumni. I first found Chase's work combing through century old issues of Scribner's Magazine, and then found his name again, while reading about N. C. Wyeth.

Chase was originally from Massachusetts, near Boston. While attending the Eric Pape School of Art, around 1900, he met a few fellow students that would rise to the challenges of being accepted as students of Howard Pyle—Among them was N. C. Wyeth— with whom he wrote to regularly over the years.

Most of the information I was able to find on Chase, is due to his friendship with Wyeth. As Wyeth struggled to find his place somewhere between the art museum and the illustration assignment, he had less and less respect for his fellow classmates who embraced illustration without reserve. Very few of them earned his regard. Sidney Chase was one of the few that Wyeth maintained some degree of respect and friendship for.

Looking over this set of pieces done for an article in a 1908 issue of Scribner's Magazine , it is easy to see that the work deserves some amount of respect either way. This kind of coastal Maine life was a favorite subject of Chase's— and would come to be one of Wyeth's as well- around 1920 Wyeth and Chase split the cost of a house in Maine, where both would go for years in the future to find inspiration for painting.

Chase went on to achieve fair commercial success, getting work from the larger magazines of the day, sometimes (as with this story on Maine fishing) as author-illustrator. Like Wyeth, he later turned away from illustration, looking to find a deeper meaning and satisfaction in painting. Chase did mostly watercolor work later in his career.

At the end of his life in 1957, Chase had left wishes that his remaining work be destroyed, wishes that for the most part were complied with. It makes the sight of his illustrations that much more of a rare treat.

No comments: