Marie Goth was one of Indiana’s finest portraitists, painting hundreds of notable subjects ranging from James Whitcomb Riley to General Douglas MacArthur. Goth studied art at Manual Training High School with Hoosier Group painter Otto Stark, who was her father’s cousin and head of the school’s art department. She won her first prize in a design contest at age 16 and served for three years after her graduation as Stark’s assistant. Goth studied at the John Herron Art Institute and the Art Academy in Cincinnati, and from 1909 to 1919 she attended the Art Students League in New York. In 1926, Goth won first place for a portrait entry in the Hoosier Salon and in 1931 was the recipient of the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Prize at the National Academy of Design in New York. She died at age 87, leaving most of her $600,000 estate to the Brown County Art Guild with the stipulation that a museum be built to exhibit paintings by her, her sister Genevieve Goth Graf, her sister’s husband, Carl Graf, and her long-time love, V. J. Cariani.
Goth’s portrait of T. C. Steele, dean of Indiana landscape painters, probably dates from around the time she concluded her studies at the Art Students League in New York and moved into a Brown County, Indiana, log cabin. Goth would have known Steele as one of the region’s most acclaimed artists and as a fellow Brown County resident. She depicts the vigorous man in his 70s, perhaps a bit unfashionable in his loose collar, but with eyes and bearing full of purpose and energy. The displaced lock of hair gives the picture a life-like informality and reinforces the sense of three-dimensional form. The confident, skilled brushwork and vibrant palette show the fulfillment of the artistic promise displayed in her early portraits.
Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss. Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana’s Historical Women Artists, Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0871951779