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Theodore Clement Steele (1847-1926)

Theodore Clement Steele is perhaps the most famous of the "Hoosier Group" of American impressionist painters.
Other painters in the group included William Forsyth, J. Ottis Adams, Richard B. Gruelle and Otto Stark. These five artists trained abroad but returned to Indiana and developed a distinctive style of landscape painting.

Born in Owen County, on Sept. 11, 1847, T.C. Steele moved to Waveland, southwest of Crawfordsville, when he was 5 years old. Steele attended a college prep school called the Waveland Collegiate Institute, where he was given a box of paints and began to develop his talent as an artist. By the age of 13, he was giving his fellow students lessons in drawing.

Steele also received some instruction in Cincinnati and Chicago and later moved to Indianapolis to become a portrait painter.
In 1870, he married Mary Elizabeth Lakin. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived in Battle Creek, Mich., where Steele did some portrait painting.
The couple returned to Indianapolis in 1873 and T.C. began painting portraits of wealthy Indianapolis residents, some of whom supported the artist enough to fund five years of study in Munich, Germany.
In 1880, T.C. and Mary left for Europe with their three children, Brandt, Daisy and Shirley.

While in Munich, T.C. studied under professors at the Royal Academy alongside three other members of the Hoosier Group - J. Ottis Adams, William Forsyth and Otto Stark. The Steele family returned to Indianapolis in 1885 and T.C. opened an art school in addition to painting portraits.
Though T.C. made his living by painting portraits, he knew that painting landscapes was his true love.
He wanted to capture the light and color of the autumn landscape and spent summers and autumns in the country so that he could work on his landscapes.
He even purchased a "studio wagon" in which he and his family could travel the countryside in comfort.

In the 1890s, Steele became a nationally recognized painter, but this success was bittersweet due to his beloved wife’s death in 1895.
After Mary’s death, he decided to focus on painting landscapes, something his wife had always encouraged him to do.
Steele purchased 200 heavily wooded acres in Brown County, married Selma Neubacher, the assistant superintendent of art in the Indianapolis school system, and settled into "The House of the Singing Winds" to paint the hilly landscapes of this rural area near Bloomington.

At first, his farmer neighbors thought Steele and his wife were strange. The Steeles were refined "city folk" who did not seem to understand that the land was to be worked for profit, not captured in art.
Over time, the neighbors came to respect the artist. Steele eventually became an honorary professor at Indiana University. He died on July 24, 1926. | © The Indiana Historical Society

Theodore Clement Steele (11 settembre 1847 - 24 luglio 1926) è stato un pittore impressionista Americano noto per i suoi paesaggi dell'Indiana.
Steele è stato un innovatore e leader nella pittura del Midwest americano ed è uno dei più famosi pittori dell'Hoosier Group dell'Indiana.
Oltre alla pittura, Steele ha contribuito con scritti, conferenze pubbliche ed ore di servizio alla comunità su giurie d'arte che hanno selezionato le voci per mostre nazionali ed internazionali, in particolare l'Esposizione Universale (1900) a Parigi, in Francia, e la Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904) a Saint Louis, Missouri.
È stato anche coinvolto nell'organizzazione di associazioni artistiche pionieristiche, come la Society of Western Artists.

Il lavoro di Steele è apparso in numerose mostre prestigiose, tra cui la World's Columbian Exposition (1893) a Chicago, Illinois; la mostra Five Hoosier Painters (1894) a Chicago; la Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904) a Saint Louis; l'Esposizione Internazionale di Belle Arti (1910) a Buenos Aires, in Argentina, ea Santiago, in Cile; e alla Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915) a San Francisco, California.
Il lavoro di Steele è ampiamente raccolto da musei e privati.
I suoi dipinti in collezioni pubbliche includono quelli dell'Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art, dell'Indiana State Museum, dell'Indianapolis Museum of Art, del Los Angeles County Museum of Art e dell'Indiana University Art Museum di Bloomington, Indiana, tra gli altri.
I contributi di Steele sono stati riconosciuti con lauree honoris causa dal Wabash College nel 1900 e dall'Indiana University nel 1916.
Inoltre, Steele è stato eletto membro associato della National Academy of Design di New York nel 1913.

Onori ed omaggi

Steele ricevette una laurea honoris causa dall'Università dell'Indiana nel 1916.
L'Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau ha eretto due monumenti storici per onorare i contributi di Steele.
Un pennarello, installato nel 1992, onora l'artista, insieme alla sua casa ed al suo studio a Brown County, nell'Indiana.
Il secondo marker, installato nel 2015, onora i contributi di Steele e la sua ex residenza di Indianapolis, che è diventata la sede del John Herron Art Institute.
Nel 2016, come parte della celebrazione del bicentenario dell'Indiana, l'Indiana Historical Society ha presentato "Indiana Impressions: The Art of T. C. Steele" come tributo al pittore Hoosier, che gli esperti d'arte considerano il paesaggista più noto dello stato.
La mostra a Indianapolis comprendeva quarantatré dei suoi dipinti provenienti da collezioni private.