William Merritt Chase, “Peonies” (c. 1897)

14 Feb

William Merritt Chase, Peonies (c. 1897)

Note: click on the image to enlarge

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Peonies is one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite artists, American Impressionist William Merritt Chase.  This is a simple composition with an overt Asian influence, done with spot-on coloring.  The red and green are perfect complements.

I’m especially taken with the radiant green of the table cloth.  What’s more subtle is the soft violet in the background and negative space of the peonies, which delicately interacts with the pale yellow in the background, the flowers, the vase, a couple of spots on the table cloth and fan, and the waistline of the kimono.  The depth of field is slightly flattened, emphasizing the two dimensional plane of the painting surface.

It’s hard to decide which is lovelier, the flowers or the woman, and I suppose that was Chase’s point.

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