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Steele painted Pleasant Run within months of his return to the US. Munich influences are apparent in the dark tonality, clear atmosphere, and backlighting techniques, here applied to an Indiana landscape.
In an 1886 letter to painter J. Ottis Adams, Steele advised, “Drop all of Munich but your training. Keep the technical ability and the artistic insight, and exercise them upon American subjects, American portraits, life and landscape.”
The Pleasant Run creek defined Indianapolis’s eastern and southern limits in 1885. The painting’s reverse identifies the location as “Osburn’s Farm,” where Arlington Avenue and Tenth Street meet today.