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Adams, Wayman The Art Jury, 1921


Wayman Adams was born in Muncie. His father, Nelson Perry Adams, was a farmer and a self-taught artist. Wayman studied at the Herron Art Institute under William Forsyth and J. Ottis Adams. He studied with William Merritt Chase in Italy and with Robert Henri in Spain.

Adams had a studio in Indianapolis but spent much of his time at his New York studio. He established the Old Mill School in upper New York State in 1933. He was nationally recognized for his portraits, and completed six for the Governors’ Portraits Collection of the State of Indiana. Wilbur Peat, author of Portraits and Painters of the Governors of Indiana: 1800–1978, noted that Adams “employed his masterful artistic technique to reflect the individual character of his subject.” United States presidents Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding were among his subjects.

  • The Art Jury, 1921
  • 82″ x 54″
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Keywords: paintings, portraits, oil on canvas
  • Subjects: indoors, people, men, judges, eyeglasses, Hoosier Group

The four men depicted in this painting—T. C. Steele, Otto Stark, J. Ottis Adams, and William Forsyth—were all instructors of and inspirations for Wayman Adams. This is a good example of a group portrait, and given its size, it is an especially magnificent accomplishment. The artists are dressed for a public occasion and conferring about something that is beyond the surface of the canvas. Because it is called “The Art Jury,” they are probably judging an art exhibit to select the winning pieces. The background makes them stand out, and their physical closeness and personal interaction emphasizes that they were “The Hoosier Group.”

Some Points To Consider

  • Discuss with students what they know about the Hoosier Group. Ask students: How does this portrait help you to understand them? (Art 4.1.1, 4.2.1)
  • Ask students to look at the expressions on the faces of the four men and to guess what is going on. What might they be discussing? Encourage students to think of the quality and style of the “Hoosier Group” paintings. What was important to them? Have students make a list of the criteria these judges might be using to determine excellence in a work of art. (Art 4.4.1)