Randolph Coats was born in Richmond, Indiana and studied at the John Herron Art School in Indianapolis with William Forsyth, the Cincinnati Academy of Fine Arts under Frank Duveneck, and abroad. Coats lived and kept studios in Indianapolis and Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he had a summer school. He spent time painting in the Smoky Mountains and Indiana’s Brown County. His favorite subjects were landscapes, but he was also well-known for his portraits and figure painting. Coats painted Indiana Governors Ralph Gates and Henry Schricker and restored 36 portraits of other governors. He made two documentary films, One Hundred Years of Art and Artists of Indiana and New England Art Colonies. Coats was a charter member and President of the Indiana Artists’ Club, which is still in existence.
Coats developed his mature figure-painting style in the 1920s, after his extended stay in Europe. The smoothly flowing forms and idealized treatment of the model in Elaine typify his approach, which seems related to the example of the nineteenth-century French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme and to Gérôme’s pupil William McGregor Paxton. Elaine exemplifies the product of the professional studio painter of the 1930s. It represents a traditional subject in a manner both engagingly decorative and inoffensively titillating. It is part of a series of women Coats painted that are posed in a similar manner.
Additional information can be found in the Indianapolis Museum of Art Stout Library.