Theodore Clement Steele, American, 1847–1926
Oil on canvas
151.76 cm x 102.23 cm | 59.75 x 40.25 in
Framed: 166.37 cm x 115.57 cm x 6.35cm | 65.5 in x 45.5 in x 2.5 in
Signed and dated lower right
With permission, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Joan D. Weisenberger
Accession Number: 1991.117
These two children are the son and daughter of Henry Douglas Pierce (1848-1929) and Elizabeth Stalio Vinton Pierce (1855-1936). Henry Douglas Pierce was an Indianapolis lawyer and businessman who was a director of various railroad companies in Indiana and New York, as well as director of the Nicaragua Maritime Canal Company and a journalist writing on European and South American affairs. The Pierce family were prominent in Indianapolis and lived in the family home at 1415 Meridian Street.1 The home was in the Pierce family for over 70 years, and was just two blocks from T.C. Steele’s Tinker Talbott Place home and studio. The Blue Book of 1916 lists Mr. Henry Pierce as a member of the Art Association of Indianapolis and Mrs. Elizabeth Pierce was also a member of the Art Association of Indianapolis and one of the five incorporators and both a member and officer for many years of The Indianapolis Propylaeum.2 In 1933 she became the sole surviving incorporator of this organization.3
On the right is Theresa Vinton Pierce (1877-1963)
Theresa Vinton Pierce (Krull), was born and lived in Indianapolis. She graduated from Indianapolis High School, in 1896 and from Vassar College in 1900 (and became the first president of the local Vassar Club in 1902). She married Frederic Krull, a composer known for producing music for James Whitcomb Riley’s poems. She became a feature writer for the Indianapolis Star, specializing in educational, historical, and patriotic subjects. She was a charter member of the Arthur St. Clair Chapter of the D.A.R., and spent years becoming an expert and lecturer on St. Clair. She also gave lectures about costumes and fabrics.4
On the left is Henry Douglas Pierce, Jr. (1883-1969)
Henry Douglas Pierce, Jr. (1883-1969), was born in Indianapolis, and attended school there and at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton University in 1906 and from Harvard Law School in 1909. Passing his bar examinations in 1909, he worked first in the firm of Walker and Hollett, and then established his own office. His family connection made him head of the Vinton-Pierce real estate firm, which managed many properties, including an office block at the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and Market Streets. Before World War I, Pierce was active in Republican politics at the precinct level. He served one term (1915) in the Indiana General Assembly. In World War I he was a first lieutenant in the Motor Transport service. Pierce had an intense interest in the history of Indianapolis and of his family, and his collection of papers to the Indiana Historical Society is the result of that interest.⁴
The painting was done in 1887 which makes Theresa 10 years old, and Henry, Jr. 4 years old.
Parents: Henry Douglas Pierce and Elizabeth Stalio Vinton Pierce are buried in Crown Hill cemetery in Indianapolis.
Daughter and Son: Theresa Vinton Pierce Krull was cremated and Henry Douglas Pierce Jr. is buried in Crown Hill cemetery in Indianapolis.
1The Indianapolis Blue Book: Containing the Names and Addresses of Prominent Residents, Arranged Alphabetically and Numerically by Streets: Also Ladies’ Maiden Names, Receiving Days and Other Valuable Social Information, 1921 (New York City, NY: Dau Publ. Co., represented in Indianapolis by Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1916).
2Vinton-Pierce House. Indiana Historical Society. Accessed June 15, 2020. http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16797coll24/id/913.
3The Indianapolis Star, July 9, 1936.
4Latham, Charles. “Pierce Family Papers, 1865-1969.” Indiana Historical Society, November 13, 1995. https://indianahistory.org/wp-content/uploads/pierce-family-papers-1865-1969.pdf.
5Men of Indiana in Nineteen Hundred and One. Indianapolis, IN: Benesch Pub. Co., 1901.