William Merritt Chase was an American Impressionist painter. Chase worked in a variety of media, however he is best known for his painted portraits. His sitters included some of the most important men and women of his time in addition to his own family.
The present painting is most likely a portrait of Edith Newbold, to whom it is signed. According to the scholar Ronald Pisano, it is possible that Miss Newbold served as a model for Chase and was given the painting as a gesture of his gratitude.
Edith Newbold was a supervisor at the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art in Southhampton, New York, where Chase was director from 1891-1902. There is a dedication plaque in the Chase Archives at the Parrish Art Museum inscribed to her, “with gratitude and admiration of the Shinnecock Art Club Christmas 1892.” The plaque is signed by fifty-two individuals associated with Chase’s school, including one Sarah Newbold, who may have been related to the sitter.
Shinnecock was the first major school of plein air painting in America, supported by the Carnegie, Whitney, Astor, and Vanderbilt families, who had summer homes nearby.
Chase taught plein air and portrait painting there, where he may have painted this portrait. The work has all of the immediacy, spontaneity, and verve of Chase’s demonstration pieces, and was likely done in a single sitting to illustrate his painting technique to his students.