In July of last year, Larry DeGraff taught a painting workshop at the AKMA. While he was here, he created a Master Painting from the painting that started it all…William Merritt Chase’s painting “A Venetian Balcony.” It was the first artwork acquired for what is now the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. Degraff graciously donated this beautiful painting to the AKMA for a fundraiser. We are currently selling raffle tickets to win this stunning piece. $5/ ticket or $20/ 5 tickets for purchase at the front desk. Raffle ends on September 25, 2020. Just think, you could display a copy of St. Joseph history in your own home.
Miss Estelle Manon, A St. Joseph native and member of the St. Joseph Art League, traveled to Venice, Italy in the summer of 1913 as one of several painting students of the famous artist, William Merritt Chase. While she was in Venice she watched Chase paint A Venetian Balcony, which captures a view of a shimmering canal glimpsed through the doors of Chase’s darkened Venetian apartment.
After Estelle Manon returned to St. Joseph, she and eleven other Art League members formally recognized their group in November 1913. Their goal was “to increase public knowledge and appreciation of the arts.” The members of the League began discussing their dream of a public gallery in St. Joseph where people could come and view important works of art.
Manon told League members about Chase’s “A Venetian Balcony” and they set about acquiring the painting for their future museum. Chase’s asking price was $1,500. He sent the painting to St. Joseph so that the Art League could display it as part of their fund-raising efforts. For an entire year the Art League held fund-raising events including teas, receptions, and even an opera. Ms. Manon relates how she even solicited funds on local streetcars. League members also hung the painting in the linen department of a downtown department store and asked visitors to contribute if they so desired. On November 18, 1915, William Merritt Chase accepted $1,000 as full payment for “A Venetian Balcony” because he was so impressed with the tenacity and determination of the Art League members in their fund-raising efforts. – FromThe Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art – A History and Guide to the Collection