Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
55.88 cm x 73.66 cm | 22 in x 29 in
Signed and dated lower left
By permission, David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball State University
T.C. Steele, his wife Libbie and daughter Daisy spent the summer of 1899 in Tennessee, hoping the cool, clear mountain air would help his wife Libbie’s heath, who had recently been diagnosed with tuberculosis. Tennessee Mountain Land was painted during this time.
For many years, the painting was often referred to as “Tennessee Mountain”, and may still be found with that title in the public domain. But recently, the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University discovered that the painting was shown in 1926 with the title Tennessee Mountain Land.1
This painting is in the collection of the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana which includes the thirteen paintings by T.C. Steele listed below. These paintings represent three genres: portrait, landscape, still life.
- Portrait Study, signed / 1884
- Tennessee Mountain Land, signed / 1899
- Path Through the Woods, signed / 1900
- Portrait of John Ottis Adams, about 1900
- Untitled (landscape with houses), 1904
- Frosty Morning – Brookville, signed / 1905
- A Summer Day, signed / 1906
- Edge of the Field (a.k.a. Summer Pasture), signed / 1918
- Vase of Flowers, signed / 1919
- Afternoon in Late Autumn, signed / c. 1920-1922
- Peonies in a Dark Red Bowl, signed / 1923
- Untitled (Landscape, road on a hill) / n.d.
- Untitled (Landscape, cow on road) / n.d.
“Tennessee Mountain Land” was owned by Frank C. Ball, one of the five Ball Brothers who established Ball Corporation in the 1880’s. The Ball family were American industrialists and philanthropists, and their product most widely recognized still today is the “Ball jar”, which is used for canning.
The former Indiana State Normal College, Eastern Division was named Ball State University in 1965 in recognition of the family’s generosity. Ball State is one of a few public colleges in the US that includes a family name.
1Catalogue of the Work of Theodore Clement Steele: Memorial Exhibition during the Month of December. Exh. cat. Heron Art Institute. Indianapolis: Art Association, 1926, 24, no. 101. as “Tennessee Mountain Land”; Owned by Frank C. Ball. With description; “A stone wall across a field behind which, in the distance, rises a mountain covered with trees, green, with a blue haze.”
Special thanks to Robert G. La France, PhD, Director, David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball State University