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Adams, John Ottis Summertime, 1890


John Ottis Adams was born in Amity, in Johnson County. After two years at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, he left to become an artist. He studied at the Kensington Art School in London in 1872 and at the Royal Academy of Bavaria in Munich from 1880 to 1887. Then Adams formed an alliance with other Indiana Impressionist artists, called the Hoosier Group.

Adams set up portrait studios in Seymour, then in Martinsville, and eventually in Muncie, where he and William Forsyth began a partnership in 1888. Adams also painted with T. C. Steele at Metamora, and was strongly influenced by William Merritt Chase’s paintings exhibited at the Indiana State Fair circa 1896.

In 1898 Adams married Winifred Brady of Muncie, also an artist; their home in Brookville was built in the shelter of a great forest, prompting Adams and Steele to call it “the Hermitage.” Adams was an instructor at Indianapolis’s Herron Art Institute from 1904 to 1909. The Adamses spent part of each summer in Leland, Michigan, painting woodlands and sunsets, and in later life painted in Florida each winter.

  • Summertime, 1890
  • 14″ x 20″
  • David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball State University
  • Keywords: paintings, natural landscapes, oil on canvas
  • Subjects: outdoors, people, children, hats, Hoosier Group

This painting retains European details, such as the thatched roofs in the background, even though Adams was in Indiana in 1890. The trees are formally painted, and the children are wearing field hats to protect their skin from the sun.

Some Points To Consider

  • Ask students what details in this painting might tell them that it is 1890. (Art 4.1.1)
  • Ask students to describe aspects of this painting that are Impressionist. (Art 4.2.2)
  • John Ottis Adams was influenced by William Merritt Chase. Have students look at Chase’s Rest by the Wayside and compare it to Summertime. Then ask: How are the two paintings alike? How are they different? (Art 4.2.2, 4.3.1)