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Century-Old T.C. Steele Painting Discovered In Brown County

A century old painting from Brown County has been discovered after being hidden under another painting at the Indiana State Museum’s T.C. Steele State Historic Site. The painting was official unveiled to the public Wednesday.

The Indiana State Museum has several paintings by 19th century Indiana artist T.C. Steele. But when they sent in one of the paintings for a routine cleaning, they made an unexpected discovery.

Arts and Culture Collections Manager Meredith McGovern says when the conservator took the tacks off the canvas edge of the painting, he found another image underneath.

“We believe that it’s been unknown for at least 86 years, because the artist passed away in 1926,” McGovern says.  “His widow authenticated the backs of the paintings, and she unknowingly authenticated the back of the 1890 painting as the 1887 painting.”

McGovern says she thinks the painting was made in Indiana, perhaps in Delaware County. The 1890 painting was under another work called “An Old Garden” that was painted a few years earlier. Historic Site Manager Andrea de Tarnowsky says they need some additional research before they can understand the history behind the work.

“Since it’s dated that’s a good starting point to research where we know Steele was traveling in that year,” de Tarnowsky says.  “We know that he was in a number of different towns and places. So start by searching in those areas and working outward in a circle.”

The painting has not been given a specific value, although some of T.C. Steele’s work has been valued at up to $220,000. The painting will remain on the historic site in Brown County until November.


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