Long considered the most important of the Hoosier Group of American Impressionist painters, T.C. Steele would greatly alter his style after his studies in Europe.
He had started his career as a portrait painter, and then attended classes at the Indiana School of Art under John Love. A wealthy patron funded an educational journey for Steele, and he chose to attend the Royal Academy in Munich from 1880 to 1885.
Upon his return to America he headed back to Indianapolis, where he opened a studio and began to take portrait commissions. By this time he had a strong reputation and was painting such notable persons as the Governor of Indiana. He was also teaching and exhibiting.
Steele's palette during this period showed the effects of a Munich education, and was dark and somewhat dramatic. Within the following years, and as he began to visit the rural areas of Indiana, it began to lighten and became significantly more colorful. His style too began to change and his brushwork and use of light became almost pure Impressionist.
His submissions to exhibitions, beginning around 1893, identified him as a painter of this new style, and Steele would quickly be seen as a leader of the group. In fact, Steele and his peers organized the Society of Western Artists to demonstrate their dedication to their own brand of Impressionism, which they emphasized, was just as valid and valuable as that of the French painters.
When his wife died in 1906, Steele remarried and moved far into the Indiana countryside, where he remained for the rest of his life.
He was a member of the National Academy of Design, among other associations and exhibited frequently throughout his life, including shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Royal Academy in London.