Sidney Marsh Chase was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, near Boston, where he spent most of his life. He studied with Charles Woodbury and Edmund C. Tarbell, and at the Eric Pape School of Art in Boston, where Clifford Ashley, Henry Peck and N.C. Wyeth also were students. He spent the summer of 1901 with them in Annisquam, Massachusetts, studying under George Noyes. N.C. Wyeth and Chase developed a close friendship over the years and corresponded with regularity. Chase was not in Wilmington for Howard Pyle’s fiftieth birthday party in March 1903 but arrived in town soon after. He maintained a studio in Wilmington until 1907. Although Chase did not remain in Wilmington, he retained strong ties to the area, submitting paintings to many Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts exhibitions over the years (in 1932 he won the watercolor prize). His work appeared in major magazines such as Scribner’s, Harper’s Monthly, Saturday Evening Post, and Collier’s.
The Monday evening composition classes held by Pyle impressed Chase deeply, and he wrote in 1912 of Pyle’s ability to stimulate his students, “truly, he, searched the corners of our mentalities.” He added, in 1947, “He opened my vision to a philosophy of living that has inspired my whole life. Even if I never painted another picture this remains true.”
Also a writer, Chase often provided magazine illustrations for his own tales and anecdotes. He especially loved to portray the area around Maine – crusty old salts and ocean scenes. Around 1915 painting, rather than illustration, became Chase’s main interest. In his later years he became interested in watercolor. Gregory H. Laing of the Haverhill Public Library, which has a number of his works as well as extensive files on his life, describes the late watercolors as “quite abstract.” Mr. Laing adds that the artist requested that his remaining works be destroyed after his death, and for the most part this was done.
Chase exhibited his works at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and was often shown at Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston.
References: Fielding; Lykes; Wyeth letters; Chase, Sidney M. “How Artist Talked in the Composition Class is Related.” Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 13, 1912; DAM files; Lykes correspondence; PAFA archives.