First Touch of Autumn

Creation date
oil on canvas
40-1/8 x 50-1/8 in. 44-1/4 x 54-1/4 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of Peter C. Reilly and Dr. Jeanette P. Reilly
Accession number
Currently On View

The artist captures the low and rolling, flat terrain of the Shinnecock countryside, with its occasional tree, sand dunes, and dwarfed bushes.

Chase established America's first summer school of art at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, where he painted some of his most Impressionist landscapes.

Macbeth Galleries in New York, Peter Reilly of Indianapolis; Peter C. Reilly (son) and Dr. Jeanette P. Reilly of Indianapolis
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William Merritt Chase at Shinnecock

Hoosier native William Merritt Chase trained at the Royal Academy in Munich before settling in New York City. He maintained a summer home and studio at Shinnecock Hills on the eastern end of Long Island, where he established America’s first summer school of art in 1891. In his classes and in his own artistic production of this period, Chase focused primarily on painting en plein air. Some of Chase’s finest and most impressionistic landscapes were painted during his summer sojourns at Shinnecock.

Although Chase often included his family in his tranquil Shinnecock scenes, First Touch of Autumn presents an expansive view of an unpeopled landscape, which is soft and rolling. Chase captures the vastness of this lowland country as it stretches toward the sea under a clear blue sky.

Pisano, Ronald G. and Carol K Lane. William Merritt Chase: Landscapes in Oil. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.