Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
55.88 cm x 81.28 cm | 22 in x 32 in
Framed: 28 3/4 in x 38 3/4 in x 2 1/2 in |28 3/4 in x 38 3/4 in x 2 1/2 in
Signed and dated lower left T.C. Steele / 1910
Previously in the Indianapolis Museum of Art Collection, bequest of Dr. Jesse C. Ambrose
Transferred to Christie’s New York; sold at American Art Online sale 15-22 May 2019 (lot 161)
Former accession number: 1997.70, Deaccessioned on 05.17.2017
Now resides in private collection
It is important to note the T.C. Steele Historic Site which sits on 211 acres in the rolling hills of Brown Country, Indiana is most commonly referred to as being located in Nashville, Indiana.
The expansive site where Steele lived and a painted from 1907 until his death in 1926, is actually located in the tiny town of Belmont, Indiana, a short eight miles from Nashville, Indiana.
The site includes expansive, gardens, a large studio, small studio and the residence named “House of the Singing Winds”. This property and home became the Steele’s year-round residence in 1912.
After T.C. Steele’s death in 1926, his second wife Selma lived there until her death in 1945. She bequeath the entire property and more than 300 of her husband’s paintings to the state of Indiana. The property and collections remain under the management of the Indiana State Museum and Historical Sites, to this day.
Belmont was originally a settlement of the Shakers. The Shaker establishment quickly died out, but they left the bell from their church accompanied the land in a government auction. The bell remained until 1920 and the name Belmont became official. It is not known if the bell remains today. A post office was established in Belmont in 1884, and remained in operation unit it was discontinued in 1916. The Nashville, Indiana post office is used by this unincorporated community today.
The Shakers are one of the most intriguing religious movement in American history, considered among the most successful utopian societies ever to flourish in this country. Beliefs include pacifism, celibacy, and communal living.1
The Shakers derived originally from a small branch of English Quakers founded by Jane and James Wardley in 1747 and came to America from Manchester, England in 1774. Ann Lee led eight Shaker converts here seeking freedom to live, work, and worship. They may have adopted the French Camiosards’ ritual practices of shaking, shouting, dancing, wailing, and singing in tongues. These Shaker religious expressions were called the “Shaking Quakers” or the “Shakers”.1
The Shakers have made important contributions to American culture in their art, architecture, craftsmanship, music, agriculture, and commerce. They remain renowned today for their plain architecture and furniture.¹
American singer and songwriter John Mellencamp, who lives in nearby Bloomington, Indiana owns a recording studio in Belmont. The studio is named Belmont Mall Studio, and in 1987 The Belmont Mall Studio Session was released. Re-recordings of several of his popular songs Cherry Bomb, Pink Houses, and an acoustic version of the ever popular Small Town, appear on this CD. The studio is less than 2 miles from the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.
Highly visible and readable stamp on reverse side of canvas noting the painting was authenticated by Mrs. T.C. Steele (Selma, his second wife) and noted as being painted in 1910. The authentication date is August 31, 1926. T.C. Steele died on July 24, 1926.
1Hancock Shaker Village, November 2, 2020. https://hancockshakervillage.org/.