Collections

The Museum’s permanent collection encompasses over 6,500 objects, including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The diverse collection began with an initial gift by the Museum’s founders, Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Singer, Jr. Their generosity and that of subsequent donors have built a remarkable art collection that continues to grow. The collection includes strengths in American art, 19th century European, international collections that reflect the founders’ cosmopolitan worldview, and collections of world cultures.

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William Merritt Chase’s Fish, Plate, and Copper Container 

is featured in the publication of the museum’s highlights One Hundred Stories. The painting is on view in the Smith Gallery, along with magnificent examples of 18th and 19th century American Art from the museum’s permanent collection.

William Merritt Chase (18Chase, William Merritt - Fish, Plate and Copper crpd49-1916) was one of the most renowned and multifaceted artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With a bold, and exacting style, Chase artfully captured the essence of the world around him through rich landscape paintings, intimate portraits, and carefully composed still lifes. This summer, in honor of the centennial of Chase’s death, and as a complement to the retrospective exhibition currently on view at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is pleased to highlight its own magnificent still life by William Merrit Chase, Fish, Plate, and Copper Container, painted around 1900.
Born in Indiana and trained in New York and Munich, Chase quickly developed his signature style of bold brushstrokes and a darker palette. Painted in warm browns and reds, with highlights of shimmering gold and silver, Fish, Plate, and Copper Container is a classic example of a “kitchen picture” by the artist. Chase often finished his still life paintings of fish within two hours, working quickly, in the Dutch still life tradition, to capture the color of the fish scales before they faded. The inclusion of a gleaming copper kettle and glazed ceramic plates contrast vividly with the soft flesh and organic forms of the fish.

Gifts of Works of Art

To inquire about giving a work of art, please send digital images of the object and any details (i.e., artist/maker, title, date, and medium) to info@wcmfa.org. All gifts are reviewed by the curatorial department and Museum director, and are approved by the Collections and Exhibitions Committee and the Board of Trustees.

The Museum cannot authenticate or appraise works of art. For information on appraisers, please visit the websites for Appraisers Association of America or the International Society of Appraisers.

Nazi Era Provenance

The “Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era” issued by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) recommend those museums identify collection objects that were created before 1946, were acquired after 1932, underwent change of ownership during 1933-1945, and that were or might reasonably be thought to have been in continental Europe between those dates. The Museum adheres to these guidelines and continues to research the collection to establish complete provenance (history of ownership). The WCMFA is a participating museum on AAM’s Nazi Era Provenance Internet Portal.

To learn more about our collections, contact the Museum online, by calling (301) 739-5727, or via email at info@wcmfa.org.