This straight road bordered by trees, which leads the eye into the depths of the landscape, was a composition that Steele drew and painted frequently in different seasons while studying in Germany. His training there was in figure drawing and painting, but he also spent time on his own painting landscapes in nearby villages.
This road into the village of Schleissheim, outside Munich, was a route that Steele and his family traversed regularly. His wife Libbie wrote of its wintertime charm, “I look down through the long white vista; the trees seem to be all ablossom and they cast deep shadows as if it were summer.”
T. C. Steele was born in Gosport Indiana. His family later moved to Waveland where Steele began taking art classes at age twelve. By the time he was eighteen, Steele was teaching drawing and painting at Waveland Collegiate Institute. Steele moved to Indianapolis and cultivated a friendship with Herman Lieber, who became his patron. He studied at the Indiana School of Art with its founder John Love. Lieber raised the funds to send Steele and his family to Europe. Steele chose to go to Munich because it was less expensive than Paris and he could study with Frank Duveneck, a prominent Ohio painter. When Steele returned to Indianapolis, he established an art school with William Forsyth. He did portraits and landscapes, many of them dark and dramatic, in the style known as the Munich School. When he began to explore the Indiana countryside, Steele turned almost completely to landscape painting, and his work became more colorful and gradually more impressionistic. Steele emerged as the leader and spokesman for a group of Indiana artists known as The Hoosier Group, which included Indiana’s most important Impressionist painters, including William Forsyth, J. Ottis Adams, Otto Stark, and Richard Gruelle. In 1902 and 1903, Steele toured the American West, painting in Oregon and around San Francisco. In 1906, he settled in Brown County in a home that became known as the House of the Singing Winds.
Winter in Munich features the road that connects the city to the village of Schleissheim, where Steele and his wife lived during much of their stay in Germany. Steele’s wife recalled the path in winter: “I look down through the long white vista; the trees seem to be all ablossom and they cast deep shadows as if it were summer. Their great branches, laden with feather fringes, droop over in long graceful curves…” The artist captures his wife’s poetic view in this snow-covered vista lined with trees that stand like majestic figures n the white landscape.
William H. Gerdts. Theodore Clement Steele: American Master of Light, New York: Chameleon Books, 1995. ASIN: B002J7NK4K
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