OneAmerica donates collection of Hoosier Group, T.C. Steele paintings to IU

  • April 23, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has received a significant gift of artwork from OneAmerica, a mutual insurance holding company and financial firm headquartered in Indianapolis.

The OneAmerica donation includes six oil paintings from Theodore Clement Steele and one from John Ottis Adams, a fellow member of the Hoosier Group of impressionist painters. The landscapes capture the seasonal splendor of Brown County and a mostly rural Indiana. The paintings are appraised at $500,000.

“We are very pleased that these beautiful works of art have found a wonderful home at Indiana University,” OneAmerica CEO Scott Davison said. “OneAmerica has long supported Hoosier artists and the arts community, and it only made sense to return these significant paintings to their roots.”

“Indiana University is proud to offer a new home for these paintings, and we look forward to visitors to our Bloomington campus having the opportunity to view and appreciate the work of two of our state’s most acclaimed artists,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “We are extremely grateful to OneAmerica for this generous donation, which is a welcome addition to one of the nation’s most outstanding university art collections.”

About the artists

Both artists were born in Indiana, spent a significant part of their working careers in the state and had ties to the university.

T.C. Steele (1827-1926) was born near Gosport and studied art throughout the Midwest before returning to Indiana. At first, he supported his family as a portrait painter and also painted outdoors in warmer months. Today he is remembered for his prolific plein air landscapes, which are well represented at U.S. museums, the Indiana University Memorial Union, the IU Art Museum and several other locations around the Bloomington campus. Steele became IU's first artist in residence in 1922 and kept a working studio in the top floor of Franklin Hall.

J. Ottis Adams (1851-1927), was born in Amity, Ind., and briefly attended Wabash College before studying art in London. In the 1880s he studied alongside Steele at the Royal Academy in Munich. The two painters and their wives later lived and painted together at a property in Brookville, Ind., that they dubbed "the Hermitage." Adams was one of the original teachers of drawing and painting at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, which became a part of Indiana University in 1967, and IUPUI two years later.

The OneAmerica donation includes the Adams painting "Brookville in Summer" and the Steele paintings "Tinker Place, Indianapolis," "Brown County Autumn," "Brown County Landscape," "Landscape With Cabins," "Fall Scene: House in Valley" and "Mrs. Steele in the Garden." All of the paintings were completed between about 1900 and 1920.

The university has initiated efforts to determine the best location to display these paintings.

"T.C. Steele is the great Hoosier painter and Adams stands right by him. We are thrilled to have these new paintings join the IU Campus Art Collection. Students, faculty, alumni and staff never tire of these impressionistic landscapes, as they warm our institutional walls and brighten our daily routine," said Sherry Rouse, the curator who cares for all of IU's works of art that are not in its museums.

"We are proud of the artistic legacy of the university and aspire to make this the most artistically interesting university anywhere," she said. "A gift like this helps us fulfill that goal."

About OneAmerica

OneAmerica Financial Partners Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, has companies that can trace their solid foundations back more than 135 years in the financial services marketplace.

The OneAmerica companies offer a variety of products and services to serve the financial needs of their policyholders and customers. These products include retirement plan products and trust and record-keeping services; individual life insurance, annuities, asset based long-term care solutions and employee benefit plan products.

OneAmerica and the OneAmerica Foundation Inc. support the Indianapolis community through the giving of time, talent and treasure. Since 2000, more than $25 million has gone to support education, community development, civic groups, nonprofits and arts organizations, like the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Broad Ripple Art Fair and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

"Mrs. Steele in the Garden," by T.C. Steele

"Mrs. Steele in the Garden," by T.C. Steele | Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

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"Brookville in Summer," by J. Ottis Adams

"Brookville in Summer," by J. Ottis Adams | Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

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T.C. Steele in June 1926, when he was artist in residence at Indiana University.

T.C. Steele in June 1926, when he was artist in residence at Indiana University. | Photo by Indiana University Archives

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Sherry Rouse, the curator of the IU Campus Art Collection, is shown with the painting "Mrs. Steele in the Garden," by T.C. Steele.

Sherry Rouse, the curator of the IU Campus Art Collection, is shown with the painting "Mrs. Steele in the Garden," by T.C. Steele. | Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

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Media Contacts

Sherry Rouse

Curator of the IU Campus Art Collection

  • Office 812-855-1024