Theodore Clement Steele (American, 1847-1926)

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This depiction of a single figure on a tree-lined road under a purple-clouded sky is the only known Munich scene painted after Steele returned from Germany.

Steele painted this landscape using sketches he made while studying abroad.


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.

Sunrise was made from sketches Steele produced while studying abroad and is the only known Munich scene painted after Steele returned from Germany. The depiction of a single figure on a tree-lined road is similar to Steele’s sketches of the Road to Schleissheim in his Munich sketchbooks. The purple clouded sky in Sunrise can be seen in some of Steele’s paintings of Schleissheim. Sunrise suggests nostalgia for the Munich landscape that remained with Steele after his return to Indiana.


William H. Gerdts. Theodore Clement Steele: American Master of Light, New York: Chameleon Books, 1995. ASIN: B002J7NK4K

Painted for Otto Lieber (son of the art dealer Herman Lieber); sold to an unidentified woman; sold to Stephen Enkema's grandfather; donated to the museum by Stephen Enkema

Object Information

Theodore Clement Steele (American, 1847-1926)
creation date
oil on canvas
18-1/8 x 28 in.
27-3/4 x 37-3/4 x 3-3/8 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Stephen Enkema in honor of his mother Joy Enkema
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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