Joseph Cummings Chase

Short Biography from

Joseph Cummings Chase (1878-1965) was a world famous portrait artist who was educated at Pratt Institute and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and later at the Academie Julien in Paris. His portfolio included portraits of military and political figures such as Teddy Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Albert Einstein. His work appeared in Boys Life magazine and many books, and fifty of his formal works ended up in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery collection. He taught at Cooper Union's art school, where a young Eleanor Roosevelt was his student, and he later served as head of the art department and Dean of Hunter College.

Article from the Boston Herald, April 5, 1933


Joseph Cummings Chase is undoubtedly “Joe” to more notables than have ever before honored with a familiar and affectionate appellation a famous artist who has made them the subjects of sketches and portraits.  And now Mr. Chase gathers them, scores and scores of them, into a book of reminiscences and anecdotes which he calls “My Friends Look Good to Me,” and which he further enriches with reproductions of 70 of the aforesaid sketches and portraits. What an impressive and bewildering array of distinguished men and women we meet, and under particularly delightful circumstances, in these pages fellow artists, stage folk, writers, fighting men, statesmen from the White House down, educators and so on.

In these later years, New York, Washington and Europe have claimed Mr. Chase, but in his whimsical foreword, which he calls “A Fairy Story,” he lingers feelingly on his New England backgrounds and beginnings. He was born 55 years ago at Kent’s Hill, Me., the son of a Methodist minister who was also teacher of mathematics at the good old seminary there and who later became principal of another good old Methodist seminary at Bucksport, Me. He began his art career by bothering the leading citizens of the community with sketches made at town meetings and church suppers. Then his fame spread to Lewiston and he felt his fortune was made when a local paper paid him $5 to do sketches at the state fair in that city. In 1898 he was at Pratt Institute, New York, and two years later a metropolitan paper sent him to do sketches at the national convention of the two great parties. The wealth thus accumulated took him to Paris for further study.

Back again in America the sketching of notables in New York, Washington and elsewhere developed into portrait painting. When the world war came he was called to Washington and 50 of his portraits of the leaders of that era are in the permanent collection of the National gallery in that city.. Then to France where he painted 150 portraits Pershing, Foch, decorated doughboys and all and so back to old studio in New York with more of the army coming to be painted; and now and then an actor or a banker or an explorer, together with little boys and girls who can’t even remember the great war, and so many people being friendly and so many being friends, well, the fairy story is still going on. (Boston Herald, April 5, 1933)