Saturday, March 30, 2013

The First Art School in Indiana

No one can say for sure who was the first Indiana artist, illustrator, or cartoonist. However, in a book called American Pioneer Arts and Artists (1942), the author, Carl W. Drepperd, is unequivocal about the date, place, and founder of the Hoosier State's first school of art:
At New Harmony, Indiana, William McClure opened the first school for drawing, painting, engraving and lithography in the state, 1826. Charles Alexander [sic] Lesueur was the art teacher at the New Harmony School, 1826 to 1837.
William McClure (1763-1840) was a Scottish-born geologist, cartographer, merchant, and educator. He is known as "the father of American geology." If a map is an illustration, then McClure might be considered one of the earliest of Indiana illustrators. He made a geological map of the United States published in 1809 and 1817. In the mid 1820s, he settled in Robert Owen's Utopian community of New Harmony, Indiana, and established a school for adults. Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), the art teacher at New Harmony, was a French artist and naturalist and a friend of William McClure. He also served as a kind of unofficial artist of the New Harmony experiment. Also in residence at New Harmony was David Dale Owen (1807-1860), son of Robert Owen and a geologist and artist.

The community at New Harmony received visitors in the winter of 1832-1833 in the persons of  Prinz Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied (1782-1867), a German aristocrat, explorer, naturalist, and ethnologist, and the artist Johann Carl Bodmer, better known Karl Bodmer (1809-1893). Bodmer was a painter, graphic artist, and illustrator. His work as such would place him in a category as one of Indiana's first illustrators, along with McClure, Lesueur, and Robert Dale Owen.

In his book, Drepperd mentions another early art school within a "female seminary" (the Monroe County Female Academy), located in Bloomington and maintained by Cornelius Pering from 1832 to 1849. Pering, an English-born educator, was born in 1806 and died in 1881.

Mollusks and zoophytes, drawn by Charles Alexandre Lesueur, one of the first Indiana illustrators. This drawing is from 1807, prior to Lesueur's arrival in the Hoosier State.
A drawing of the eastern quoll or eastern native cat (Dasyurus viverrinus), an Australian marsupial, also by Lesueur (date unknown).
Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

Marian Crane (1903-1982)

Marian Crane was born on December 19, 1903, in Crawfordsville, a small city once known as "the Athens of Indiana." Marian came from a prominent family. Her father, Benjamin Crane, was a lawyer. Her maternal grandfather, John Lyle Campbell (1827-1904), was a professor of astronomy and physics at Wabash College and according to the book Montgomery County Remembers (1976), "the man generally credited with having suggested the Centennial celebration of the United States in 1876." Marian Crane's mother was Mary F. Campbell Crane (1867-1943), a musician and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Indiana Pioneers, and the local history society.

Marian Crane married James Jamieson Paterson (1899-1972) in 1927, the same year in which he began teaching economics at Wabash College. The following year, Marian drew a map of her home city (below), emphasizing landmarks associated with the college. (Note the drawing of a young woman at the bottom center of the map. The legend reads: "To Greencastle and Bloomington and the Co-eds." For those who don't know it, Wabash was and still is an all-male college.) In 1976, the Montgomery County Historical Society and the Crawfordsville Community Bicentennial Committee published Marian's map in the book Montgomery County Remembers. An image of the map appears below. As you might guess, the map forms the endpapers of the book.

Marian Crane Paterson died in February 1982 in Philadelphia and was buried in Crawfordsville.

Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley