James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1885, William Merritt Chase

'Chase was a natural dandy, and when he came back to New York in 1878 after six years' study in Europe he was determined to impress. This wasn't a mask: the man was impressive, a brilliant teacher and a born communicator, gregarious, clubbable and a virtuoso. He set out to create an image for himself. He wore spats and a topper, a cutaway coat and a neck scarf drawn through a jeweled ring; he sauntered down Fifth Avenue with Russian wolfhounds on a leash; he had a spectacular studio, where he entertained often, with the help of a black manservant dressed as a Nubian prince. As boulevardier and wit, he was doing a Whistler in reverse - in America, not Paris. Chase extravagantly admired Whistler, whose influence is written all over the younger artist’s portraits, with their tendency to isolate the single figure against a bare background and their highly conscious placement of props - a fan, a Japanese vase, a curious rattan chair. Chase believed Whistler was a modern Velazquez, and he painted the canonical image of his much-portrayed friend: full length, the head rakishly cocked, the long index finger on top of the cane, all in Velazquez’s Escorial-black with the famous tuft of white hair among the disordered dark curls.’

- from American Visions, Robert Hughes