Rest by the Wayside. William Merritt Chase


Rest by the Wayside, by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), is paired with two different pieces of music; which do you prefer “Oiseaux tristes” (Sad Bird) by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) or Death, by Claudio Nuñez (b. 1959)?
We want to hear from you! Scroll down to Leave a Reply and let us know which pairing you prefer.

Rest by the Wayside (1902) and the second movement, “Oiseaux tristes” (Sad Bird), from Ravel’s Miroirs (1905)
This pairing and commentary are by Adam Marchand.
Click here for Ravel’s “Oiseaux tristes”
The Ravel is performed by Felipe Sarro. Piano. This recording is available at Free Music Archive.

Can two portraits tell one man’s story? The combination of William Merritt Chase’s Rest by the Wayside and “Oiseaux Tristes” (Sad Bird) by Maurice Ravel encourage us to contemplate the traveler in the painting and how his surroundings could reflect his innermost self. As the eye travels along the road and the ear hears the development of the music, a new picture of past, present, and future emerges for the traveler. Listen for single bird calls that convey a sense of isolation in the Ravel, as well as the culmination of other birds calling that climax in the middle of the piece, in a chorus like one would hear at first light. Bringing these two impressionist works together combines the colors and textures that surround the man with those presented by Ravel into a new reflection and a new story.

To read Adam’s essay comparing the Rest by the Wayside and “Oiseaux tristes” click here

For a contrasting experience listen to Death (2011) performed and composed by Claudio Nuñez (b. 1959)
This pairing and commentary are by Lauren King.
Click here for the recording of “Death” by Nunez

Recording courtesy of Free Music Archive.

The guitarist sits in an empty room and picks up his guitar. The man in the painting sits in solitude surround by the beauty of the landscape. Vibrant shades of orange, green, purple, and blue dominate the scene, contrasting with the dark colors of the man’s clothing. Sunlight streams through the clouds touching sections of the vegetation illuminating the scene. The melancholic music begins to play, and the viewer delves deep into the mind of the man resting by the wayside. Surrounded by beauty, the man sits, reflecting, unable to move from the spot he is in. The music ends and footsteps are heard fading into the distance.

To read Lauren’s essay comparing the Rest by the Wayside and Death, click here.


9 thoughts on “Rest by the Wayside. William Merritt Chase

    • Ellen says:

      I liked this piece of music because with the painting because they both give me the sense of being lonely. The individual notes emphasize the mans isolation. A different song that could go with this song “this ain’t nothin” by Craig Morgan because that song is a depressing song.

  1. Kara Harris says:

    The way that Death by Claudio Nunez and Rest by the Wayside are related is that they are lonely pieces. In Death there is just one person playing with no background music other than the singer sometimes singing some audible words. I like the pairing of Death than the pairing with the other music Lonely Bird because with Death I could see the man in the picture pull out a guitar and playing the music on his guitar as he sitting on the side of the dirt road to pass the time by as he was resting before moving on. I don’t like Lonely Bird because it seems to have a too dark and bleak to it that would work better if the man was sitting on the side of a dark street in the city than a dirt road. I can not think of another piece of music this can be paired to, but I would go of a more guitar or country song if I had to choose a specific genre of music.

  2. Daniel Parrett says:

    The two works are related in a sense that they are both isolated. In the music piece there were individual notes that seemed alone which emphasized the isolation of the man in the painting.

    I enjoyed how both the music and art piece had similar emotions.

    Another piece of art that can be compared to this is the “Bowl of Goldfish” 1912. This piece also has a since of loneliness as the woman stares off into the distance looking for something.

  3. Stephen Sobek says:

    I felt like “Oiseaux Tristes” fits the piece better because I think it appeals more to the landscape of the painting. I observed more of the backdrop and nature of the piece when I listened to that bit of music, and I got the feeling of openness and even, to an extent, isolation. It tied the figure sitting on the side of the road into the setting well. The music made me think for a second that something or someone may be coming back for the man, but ended on a somber note; I enjoyed that aspect. The other piece of music was too emotional for the work.

  4. Matt Jones says:

    I liked the pairing between this painting and piece of music. The slow minor notes give a depressing feel. I began to feel and think how the man in the painting was thinking and feeling. Another piece of music that I think would work is Mad World by Gary Jules. It provides a sense of loneliness and a perspective about everything around him that is empty in the painting.

  5. Cameron Cole says:

    I feel like the piece “Sad Bird” was a better match with this piece of art. I think that the “Sad Bird” piece gave more of a calm and resting tone that I felt when looking at the piece of art.

  6. Andrew Bunton says:

    With this particular piece, “Oiseaux Tristes” fit the overall theme better, producing more of a sound that leads the viewer to ponder about the happiness of the man in the piece, is he truely happy with this outcome? I personally love this due to just how much the pairing makes the viewer THINK.

  7. Dylan Mower says:

    I believe the first piece of music fits this painting better. It just goes along with the with the empty dirt road and it’s just depressing, which fits this piece of music. I think the song could of a been a bit brighter, since there are bright colors in the picture as well.

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