Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
63.58 cm x 80.01 cm | 25 in x 31 1/2 in.
Signed and dated lower left, T.C. Steele / 1890
This painting is featured in the book Theodore Clement Steele – An American Master of Light, by the late William H. Gerdts.¹ The painting is showcased on page 38, with a larger close-up on page 39. The painting is also used as the back cover for the book.
Steele returned to Indianapolis in 1885 from his five years of study at the Royal Academy in Munich. At the time this painting was completed, Steele and his family were living in the Tinker Place (1886 – 1901) and by 1887, he built a studio on the grounds and opened it to the public.
“Throughout his career the urban scene was attractive to him as a subject, including his own home Tinker Place, which he painted in the winter of 1891. Here Steele renders the confluence of the rural and the urban – a theme which also interested many of the French Impressionists – but in very Midwestern terms.”1
It is unclear if this painting was in Indianapolis where Steele was living at the time, or a sketch, picture from Germany or elsewhere. T.C. Steele’s painting Flower Mart looks elaborate, European. The only likely structure for merchants of the scale depicted in the painting during this period, would be Indianapolis City Market which opened in 1886.
William H. Gerdts, featured Flower Mart in a full page layout, and used it for the back cover as well. Sadly, this art scholar died April 14, 2020 from complications of COVID-19 at 91 years of age. His career established him as a distinguished scholar and teacher of the history of American painting and sculpture of the 18, 19th and earlier 20th century. He was professor of Art History at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He held this position from 1971 to the time he assumed Professor Emeritus status in 1999.
¹ Theodore Clement Steele, An American Master of Light, William H. Gerdts, Published in Association with Evansville Museum of Arts & Science, Evansville, Indiana, Chameleon Books, Inc. Pages 38, 39 and back cover of book. Reference to Tinker Place, page 14.