Image Resources | Currently on View in William L. Fortune Gallery

Portrait of Alice Lyons

John J. Hegler

The child's serious expression reflects the mid-19th century concept of children as small adults.

The rugged setting is a reminder of the frontier conditions that existed in Indiana in the 1850s.

Hegler received a commission from Dr. Lewis Lyons of Attica to paint his daughter Alice.

Purchased by Roger Gould Wolcott at an auction in 1951 where the contents of the Lyon's home were sold in Attica. Records state that it was in the collection of Minnie Parker of Attica.


Jacob Hegler

Portrait of Alice Lyons, about 1855

oil on canvas

39 x 28 inches

Gift of Roger Wolcott

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Jacob Hegler arrived in the Midwest around 1845 after emigrating from Switzerland.  He undoubtedly studied drawing and painting before coming to America but did not turn to painting as a full-time vocation until settling in Indiana.  He enjoyed great success as a portrait painting in the Wabash River town of Attica, Indiana in the mid 1850s.

While in Attica, Hegler received a commission from Dr. Lewis Lyons to paint his daughter Alice.  He posed the little girl and her dog against a background of country road and woodland. Dr. Lyons was a physician and one of the town's prominent citizens. Every detail of the velvet-braided Victorian frock, the careful smoothed curls and lace-ruffled pantalets is depicted in the precise, quaint fashion of the day. Her serious expression reflects the mid-nineteenth century concept of children as small adults.  The rugged landscape setting is a reminder of the frontier conditions that existed in parts of Indiana during the 1850s. Roger G. Wolcott of Indianapolis purchased this canvas from the owner of the old Lyons home, and donated it to the IMA.


Very little published information exists on Jacob Hegler.  The best source for further research would be the IMA’s vertical file on the artist at the museum’s Stout Library.

Object Information

John J. Hegler
creation date
about 1855
oil on canvas
39 x 28 in.
43 x 32 x 3 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Roger Wolcott
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945