Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
101.6 cm x 76.2 cm | 40 in x 30 in
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
James Whitcomb Riley was one of his day’s best-selling writers, Full of sentiment and traditional in form, his work features rustic subjects who speak in a homely, countrified dialect. When Riley died, former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson called him “a man who imparted joyful pleasure and a thoughtful view of many things that other men would have missed,” and some 35,000 people filed past his casket in the Indiana State Capitol.¹
We encourage you to visit the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home & Visitor Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the country’s only late-Victorian preservation is a National Historic Landmark which offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the great “Hoosier Poet”. Built in 1872 in the Italianate style of architecture, authentic furnishings and artifacts include Mr. Riley’s writing desk and famous top hat and cane.
1Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL. Poetry Foundation shares a storied history with Chicago beginning with Poetry magazine, founded by Harriet Monroe in 1912. The oldest, boldest and most distinguished monthly dedicated to poetry in the English-speaking world. The lifelong love of Poetry by Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly inspired her nearly $200 million gift which supported the establishment of the Poetry Foundation in 2002.
Ruth Lilly (1915 – 2009) was the last surviving great-grandchild of Eli Lilly, founder of Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical firm. Lilly spent the last years of her life at Twin Oaks, an Indianapolis home that was once owned by Isabel and Lyman S. Ayres II, the grandson of Lyman S. Ayres, founder of the L. S. Ayres and Company department stores. T.C. Steele painted portraits of both Eli Lilly and Lyman S. Ayres