Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
55.88 cm x 101.6 cm | 22 x 40 in
Signed and dated lower left, private collection, Mr. and Mrs. Harley Rhodehamel
Hanover College is a private, liberal arts institution located on the banks of the scenic Ohio River, just west of Madison, Indiana. Madison was once a major river port for the state, and Hanover is the oldest private college in Indiana.1 The college was established on a bluff above the Ohio river in 1827, where the Ohio River bends from east to west. This “S” spot in the river can be seen to this day up Crowe Valley at 450 feet where T.C. Steele set up his easel and captured this bend in the summer of 1892.
This area is known to be one of the most picturesque in Indiana, and is Steele’s only known painting of the Ohio.2 The work was commissioned by Indianapolis businessman John Hampden Holliday, Sr. (1846 – 1921), newspaperman, financier and philanthropist. He was an 1864 graduate of Hanover College. During the Civil War, Holliday served in the 137th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, a 100-day regiment. He returned to Hanover and received an A.M. degree in 1867.3
In 1869, Holliday founded the Indianapolis News, the first two-cent paper west of Pittsburg, He also served in other business capacities in the city including president of Union Trust and later as chairman of the board, serving in that capacity until his death in 1921 at 75. He is buried in Crown Hill cemetery, and in 1967 inducted into the Indiana Journalism.
“It was said of John Holliday that it was impossible to think of the philanthropist without instantly associating his name with every worthy charity in the city. In fact, it would be much easier to list the Indianapolis organizations and charities in which Holliday did not participate than it would be top name those in which Holliday did.”4
In 1916, John and Evaline donated their 80-acre country estate to the City of Indianapolis, to be made into a park following their deaths. John died on 20 October 1921 and after Evaline’s death in 1929, their estate became Holliday Park. They expressed the belief that “the land is singularly suited to be a place for recreation and the study of nature”.⁵ Today Holliday Park is one of Indianapolis oldest city parks.
26th US Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks, (1852-1918) and 48th US Vice President Michael R. Pence, (1959 – Present) are both graduates of Hanover College.
The Passage: Return of Indiana Painters from Germany, 1880-1905
The Passage traces the progress of a generation of Hoosier artists who studied together at the Royal Academy of Painting in Munich in the 1880’s and returned to the United States to achieve national prominence as landscape painters. Such artists include Theodore Clement Steele, John Otis Adams, Samuel Richards, and William Forsythe.
Krause, Martin. The Passage – Return of Indiana Painters from Germany: 1880-1905. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
¹“Hanover College.” Indiana’s First Private College | Hanover College. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://www.hanover.edu/.
²Krause, Martin F. In The Passage: Return of Indiana Painters from Germany, 1880-1905, 116–17. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1990.
³Zemanek, Alysha. “John H. Holliday Collection Addition, 18 May 1943.” Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, August 2017.
⁴Barnard, Nancy L. “John H. Holliday.” Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://ijhf.org/john-h-holliday.
⁵Friends of Holliday Park https://www.hollidaypark.org/about/
6Barrette, Thornton. Lizzie Bay. University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://search.library.wisc.edu/digital/AC5VZCRVDCU7EB8Q.