Marjorie Shelley, conservator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, explores how Chase capitalized on the distinctive properties of pastel, manipulating this difficult and challenging medium according to his own artistic vision that combined modern methods with those of the past. Pastel, the avant-garde medium of the late 19th century, was closely associated with the high-keyed palette of Impressionism and well suited to convey themes of modern life: sunlit interiors, versatile textures, and rich colors. For Chase, this powdery substance was equivalent to oil painting, and he employed the same bravura handling and subject matter in each medium.

Marjorie Shelley, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper and Photograph Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Above: William Merritt Chase, Portrait of an Artist, about 1883. Pastel on paper. An MFA Honorary Trustee and Her Spouse.

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