As the impact of French Impressionism spread to the U.S. in the late 19th century, groups of American artists influenced by the new style began to form in Old Lyme, CT, New Hope, PA, Boston, New York and California. Less well known were groups of American Impressionist artists in the middle of the country, like those known as the Hoosier Group, who devoted themselves to portrayals of the Indiana countryside.
Prominent among them was Theodore Clement Steele, sometimes more simply referred to as “T.C. Steele”, who exemplified the crisp, colorful, painterly realism that was characteristic of the best American Impressionists.
Steele studied art in Chicago, returned to Indiana and became a portrait painter. He moved to Germany in 1880 to study at the Royal Academy in Munich, taking his family with him. When he returned, he began to supplement his portrait practice with landscape painting, bringing into play the Impressionist influence he had encountered in Europe.
After the death of his first wife, Steele resettled in Brown County, the landscape of which became the subject of some of his most notable work.
There is a collection of Steele’s work, Theodore Clement Steele, by William H. Gerdts, perhaps the foremost authority on American Impressionism, and an illustrated historical account of the wider group, T.C. Steel and the Society of Western Artists by Rachel Berenson Perry, Fine Arts Curator for the Indiana State Museum.