Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
50.8 cm x 60.96 cm | 20 in x 24 in
Signed and dated lower right, T.C. Steele | 1918
T.C. Steele painted this floral still life after moving to Brown County, Indiana with his wife Selma in 1907. They named their home “House of the Singing Winds” and Selma developed extensive gardens and flowerbeds on the property downhill form the home. The flowerbeds produced cuttings the artist would feature in still life paintings. The home and gardens remain to this day.
T.C. Steele was a pioneer in early Indiana art painting floral still life. Many of the artists working in Brown County art community during this time followed Steele’s lead in composing florals in their own bodies of work.¹
Peonies features the official Indiana state flower, and include fresh blooms, but also spent blooms as well. The representation of both fresh and spent blooms, leads some interpreters to believe the painter was symbolizing the ephemeral qualities of life. By the year Peonies was painted, Steele was in the later season of his own life.
Also important to this painting is the pottery shown. T.C. Steele’s oldest son Rembrandt (Brandt) was an Arts & Crafts-style potter. It is possible the dark vessels at left are Brandt’s own creation.
Note: Peonies, T.C. Steele, 1917, 25 in x 30 in, Memorial Union, Indiana University, Bloomington is a different still life by the same name.²
This beautiful painting is currently for sale. Contact Jim Ross at James R. Ross Fine Art.
¹ Jim Ross, Eckert & Ross Fine Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
² Selma N. Steele, Theodore L. Steele, and Wilbur D. Peat, The House of the Singing Winds, Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society Press, 1966, Fig. 54