Chase was deeply influenced by the Spanish painter Velázquez. He named a daughter Helen Velázquez and painted her as an lnfanta in homage to Velázquez’s portraits for the Spanish court. Here the Spanish influence is obvious in the way Chase handles the values of reflected light and the strong emphasis on the immediate foreground. The brushwork in the sleeves, collar, and bodice of the dress are clean, crisp, and assertive, serving as a foil to the luminous tones of the woman’s face and arms. Chase seems to capture, through her facial expression and standing pose, the determined attitudes of a commanding figure.
Artist William Merritt Chase, American, 1849-1916
Title
  • Portrait of a Lady in Black
Date ca. 1895
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 72 × 35 inches (182.9 × 88.9 cm)
Framed: 83 1/8 × 47 × 3 7/8 inches (211.1 × 119.4 × 9.8 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Henry Munroe Campbell
Accession Number 43.486
Department American Art before 1950
On View American W292, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, lower left: Wm. M. Chase
until 1917, the artist.
1917, American Art Association;
1917, Alfred Rose;
Henry Monroe Campbell, Sr.;
Henry Monroe Campbell, Jr;
1943-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
American Art Association Catalogue of Chase Sale (Fourth Evening). Sales cat., American Art Association. 1917, no. 382.

Richardson, E.P. “A Portrait of a Lady by William Merritt Chase.” Bulletin of the DIA 23, 5 (February 1944): p. 43 (ill.).
Chase Centennial Exhibition. Exh. cat., John Herron Art Museum. Indianapolis, 1949, n.p.

A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916. Exh. cat., Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington. Seattle, 1983, p. 115 (ill.).

Henshaw, Julia P., ed. The Detroit Institute of Arts: A Visitor’s Guide. Detroit, 1995, p. 80 (ill.).

Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn (1870-1951): John Singer Sargent’s Painting Companion. Exh. cat., The Spanierman Gallery. New York, 1997, p. 48.

American Beauty: Paintings and Sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1770-1920. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2002, pp. 94-95, no. 68.