Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
55.88 cm x 81.91 cm | 22.00 in x 32.25 in
Paintings by T.C. Steele in Tennessee are rare as he only painted there for a few months, during a serious illness of his wife. This geography is important as one of Steele’s painting areas outside of Indiana.
In early summer of 1899 T.C. Steele’s wife, Libbie (Mary Elizabeth Lakin Steele, 1850-1899) health failed seriously and the Steele’s discovered she had tuberculosis. “Believing that cool clear mountain air might help her, Steele took her and Daisy to the Village of Roan Mountain in the Tennessee Appalachians.”1
“The three-day journey by train was exhausting, their situation was not very satisfactory, and Libbie’s condition worsened. Three week later they moved up the mountain to Lost Cove where they were much more comfortable. Steele managed to do some sketching and painting, but Libbie did not improve. She grew homesick to see her sons, and in mid-September, when the heat of summer had passed, they returned to Indianapolis.”1
Libbie died in the evening of November 14, 1899 in Indianapolis at the Tinker-Talbot home.
The Tennessee landscape and mountains offered new material and new effects for Steele. Among the canvases that are publically available for viewing include “Tennessee Mountains” (1899) at Ball State University David Owsley Museum of Art, Muncie, Indiana.1
1The House of the Singing Winds, Selma N. Steele, Theodore L. Steele, Wllbur D. Peat, Indiana Historidcal Society, Indianapolis, 1966.