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The Boatman

A profile view of a shirtless oarsmen on a boat. He is middle-aged but still muscular, with gray hair and a scraggly beard. The background is gray and there is no horizon line to distinguish between the water and the sky.

A profile view of a shirtless oarsmen on a boat. He is middle-aged but still muscular, with gray hair and a scraggly beard. The background is gray and there is no horizon line to distinguish between the water and the sky.

Artist Theodore Clement Steele (American, 1847?1926)
Title The Boatman
Date 1884
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions Framed: 46 7/8 × 54 3/4 × 2 in. (119.1 × 139.1 × 5.1 cm)
Stretcher: 37 1/2 × 45 1/2 in. (95.3 × 115.6 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Hubert L. Collins, M.D., and his wife Cordelia A. Collins, R.N., Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 2005.31

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About this Work

T. C. Steele was a leading Indiana artist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1880s, he continued his artistic studies in Munich, Germany, where he was trained in the ?gray manner,? a realist, academic style characterized by a muted palette, precise underdrawing, and chiaroscuro. Painted in 1884 as his student exhibition piece at Munich?s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, The Boatman, one of Steele?s finest early works, sharply contrasts with his later, and better-known, Impressionist paintings of the southern Indiana landscape. Distinguished by its skillful depiction of the strain of physical labor, The Boatman won a Silver Medal from the Munich academy.


Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information on the provenance of European paintings, sculptures, and drawings produced before 1946, please see our Nazi-Era Provenance Research Project. For all other inquiries, please contact the department curator with specific questions.


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"The Boatman | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2020. https://artmuseum.indiana.edu/collections-online/browse/object.php?number=2005.31