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The Cover
August 8, 2001

The Open Air Breakfast

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2001;286(6):644. doi:10.1001/jama.286.6.644

To the casual observer of the late 19th-century scene, the life of the American painter William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) must have seemed as idyllic as the climbing roses that spilled over the wooden fence of his Brooklyn backyard. Not yet 40 years old, he had gone from a teenage salesman in his father's Indianapolis shoestore to a Munich-trained painter who, after his training at the Royal Academy under Karl von Piloty and Alexander von Wagner, was himself offered a teaching position there. He declined and accepted instead a position at the Art Students League in New York City. Among his friends were numerous artists, including Frank Duveneck, John Twachtman, and, until their falling out after Chase painted his portrait, James Abbott McNeill Whistler. He traveled extensively in Europe, for months, even years at a time, where he was particularly taken with the work of the 17th-century Dutch Masters and with the work of Velásquez. He was influenced by Whistler and the Belgian painter Alfred Stevens, who persuaded him to abandon the dark, varnished look of the Munich school and to lighten his palette to the more blonde, spontaneous style of the European Impressionists.