History And Context
This little painting on the back of a cigar box lid depicts the Uffizi Gallery and the Arno River on a sunny summer day in Florence, Italy. Chase masterfully replicated the way the sun danced off the buildings along the riverbank. Chase’s fluid, wispy brushstrokes indicate he was most likely outdoors when he painted this, wanting to quickly capture the scene before the light changed. The small scale gives the painting a delicate intimacy.
The painting was a personal gift from the artist to his father-in-law, Julius Gerson, who had given him this box of Flor de Gerson cigars shortly before Chase left for Florence. Gerson inscribed the lid: “To: Wm M. Chase, who knows a good thing when he smokes it, with bon voyage from J.G.” Chase returned the cigar lid to his father-in-law with the painting on one side and his inscription on the back: “To Mr. Julius Gerson, who knows a good thing when he likes it. With best wishes, Wm. M. Chase, Florence, 1907.”