This painting is also included in Ronald G. Pisano’s The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Volume 4, Yale University Press (scheduled for publication, 2009). The painting amply demonstrates Chase’s extraordinary ability to render reflective surfaces and texture. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Chase painted many still life paintings using various studio objects, in this case a tea kettle, jar, bowl and fruit. The work also displays the artist’s innate sense of carefully balanced composition, including various “notes” of color. While many of Chase’s contemporaries painted still lifes, those of Chase were singled out, his work compared to that of the French artist Antoine Vollon. Chase was also partial to the still life paintings of the eighteenth century French artist, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, and once told his class, in a paraphrase of Courbet, “If you can paint a pot, you can paint an angel.” While Chase was never known to paint an angel, like Vollon and Chardin he loved to paint copper and brass pots and kettles, and was quite simply one of the best American artists of his generation to do so.
- D. Frederick Baker