T. C. Steele and the Society of Western Artists, 1896-1914

T. C. Steele and the Society of Western Artists, 1896–1914

Rachel Berenson Perry
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/29/2009
Format: cloth 272 pages, 19 b&w photos, 61 color photos
11.5 x 11.5
ISBN: 978-0-253-35293-4
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Silver Medal, Fine Arts category, 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards
This book chronicles the Society of Western Artists from its inception in 1896 to its last sponsored exhibit in 1914. Comprised of the top artists from Indianapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, the annual traveling exhibition enhanced the stature of the work of Western artists through exposure to a wider public and by garnering reviews in the nation's art periodicals. A founding and active member of the society, Hoosier Group artist T. C. Steele executed some of his best landscape works during the years the society was active. Rachel Berenson Perry examines Steele's thoughts on plein air painting, his role as a catalyst for the development of regional Midwest impressionism and the Brown County Art Colony, his painting techniques, and his unwavering devotion to nature. The volume features 60 color reproductions of artworks by the society's major artists, complete annual catalog listings, and original exhibition reviews.

Author Bio

Rachel Berenson Perry is Fine Arts Curator for the Indiana State Museum. In addition to being a prolific author of articles in magazines such as American Art Review and Traces of Midwest and Indiana History, she wrote the introduction to The Artists of Brown County (IUP, 1994) and is author of The Life and Work of Ada Walter Shulz. She lives in Nashville, Indiana.


"Steele and the others reserved their most important paintings every year for the Society of Western Artists traveling show, which means that the illustrations in this book are splendid. The span of this organization, 1896–1914, coincides pretty precisely with the best years for our artists—those in which they were bound most closely and collegially together to the benefit of their art." —Martin Krause, Indianapolis Museum of Art

"Perry has documented an important chapter in the evolution of Midwestern art with compelling care and detail." —
Bloom Magazine

"Read the detailed history at your leisure, but take a good long look at the artwork. T. C. Steele and the Society of Western Artists is certainly the best Indiana coffee table book of the season." —theheraldbulletin.com , 12/2/2009

"Perry's book provides a much needed account of the aspirations and achievements of this pioneering midwestern cultural institution." —

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Table of Contents

List of Donors
List of Painting Lenders

Introduction: The Society of Western Artists
1. The Top of His Game, 1896
2. Getting Organized, 1896—1897
3. Making a Splash, 1897—1898
4. Critics of the Hoosier Group, 1898
5. Documented Rules and National Recognition, 1898—1899
6. Going West, 1900—1903
7. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition and New Herron Art Institute, 1904—1906
8. Moving to Brown County, 1907—1910


9. Plein Air Painting under Ominous Skies, 1911—1914
10. The Demise of the Society of Western Artists, 1915—1916

Appendix A: Annual Exhibit Catalogs
Appendix B: Society of Western Artists Membership Lists
Appendix C: Complete Dates of Society of Western Artists Annual Exhibitions
Appendix D: Recipients of the Fine Arts Building Prize
Appendix E: Paintings Exhibited by T. C. Steele, 1896—1915