Having marked Nashville’s centennial as “The Art Colony of the Midwest” in 2007, it’s easy to forget that the Brown County village was not always the epicenter of the visual arts in Indiana. A significant regional school of painting developed in the Wayne County town of Richmond in the late nineteenth century, of which the Richmond Palette Club and the Richmond Prize were manifestations.
In 1900, T.C. Steele’s landscape The Bloom of the Grape , painted on-site in Indiana’s Muscatatuck Valley just a few years earlier, won an honorable mention at the Paris Universal Exposition. The painters who were putting Indiana on the map at the turn of the twentieth century were members of a transitional generation.
When T.C. Steele and colleagues returned to Indiana in the mid-1880’s after studying at Munich’s Royal Academy of Painting, their canvases evinced the tonal realism they’d absorbed there.
Theodore Clement “T.C.” Steele is part of the “Hoosier Group of impressionist painters” that transformed art in Indiana by promoting the idea of painting “out in the open.”