Edward Leigh Chase

Edward Leigh Chase (1884–1965) was an American painter and illustrator, and an early supporter of the Byrdcliffe experiment which gave rise to the artists' colony at Woodstock, New York. A proficient sketch artist and watercolorist, he was one of the society of pubertal Art Students League humorists who called themselves the Fakirs.

Edward Leigh Chase was born in Elkhart Lake, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, the third child of Grace (née Metcalfe) and chemist Charles Denison Chase. His relatives moved to St Louis, Missouri, in 1885, when he was an infant, and he grew stirring attending public schools there. Shunning regular college, he traveled to New York City to examination art at the Art Students League. Among his professors there was the painter William Merritt Chase.

Edward Leigh Chase – "Ned" to those who knew him – showed particular accord in his use of pen and ink, and he soon turned his facility and wit to humor. For fun and necessary practice, a bureau of irreverent pupils at the league in Manhattan created parody illustrations mocking deafening works of leading artists, among them their own professors, William Merritt Chase included. The students who participated in such lampooning called themselves the Society of American Fakirs, word play on the fact that the faux masterpieces they produced were fakes. The publicize implied as skillfully that they fancied themselves magicians of a sort. With a response of a pen or paintbrush, they could transform "legitimate" art into laughing stock. Among the Fakirs were Georgia O'Keeffe, James Montgomery Flagg, Man Ray, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Ned Chase's younger brother, Frank Swift Chase.

Graduating from the Art Students League, the Chase brothers headed upstate to the Catskill Mountains to belong to in an experimental bohemian commune of a style, organized by Ralph Whitehead in Woodstock, New York. Building their own clapboard studios in the woods external the village proper, they studied and worked together in what they motto as an artists' utopia, named Byrdcliffe. Ned Chase honed his skills in sketching and watercolor, and emerged a well-off illustrator, albeit not of the caliber of his brother, Frank, who became a landscape painter of national renown. Later in life, Ned Chase painted Good equestrian portraiture of a classical style which he might have roundly excoriated as a "Fakir" in his youth.

Edward Leigh Chase died in Woodstock in 1965, and is buried with additional family members in the Artists' Cemetery there. He was married to Mabel Penrose (Tinsley), the daughter of Edward Tinsley and Laura Penrose Thornton. His grandson is the actor, writer, and comedian Chevy Chase.

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