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Bundy, John Elwood Dunes Landscape, 1903


John Elwood Bundy was born in Guilford County, North Carolina. At age 5, he traveled in a prairie schooner across the Allegheny Mountains to Indiana, where his family settled in Monrovia, in Morgan County. At 20, he began to study art in Indianapolis with Barton S. Hays. Although he stayed only a few weeks, Bundy broadened his technical knowledge and was exposed to the work of other contemporary artists in the area. Afterward, he spent a brief time in New York and was allowed the privilege of copying at the Metropolitan Museum.

Bundy moved to Richmond in 1888 to head the art department at Earlham College, where he was an instructor for eight years. He resigned in 1896 to devote full time to painting. Bundy’s home near Richmond was at the edge of a wood, and the forest often caught his artistic attention. His work reflects his love for the Indiana landscapes with which he was familiar. He eventually became one of the leading artists in the Hoosier Impressionist tradition.

  • Dunes Landscape, 1903
  • 10″ x 14″
  • Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
  • Keywords: paintings, natural landscapes, gouache
  • Subjects: outdoors, dunes, lakes, trees

This painting is a formal sunlit pastoral landscape typical of the early 20th century. Notice how the artist leads the eye to the center of the painting—the focal point. The Lake Michigan coast has long fascinated artists and scientists alike because it comprises the largest concentration of freshwater dunes in the world.

Some Points to Consider

  • Ask students to name the first thing they notice about this painting. What techniques do they think the artist used to lead the viewer’s eye to the lake? (Art 4.3.1, 4.7.2)
  • Explain to students the meaning of pastoral scene and plein air. Ask them to describe what makes this painting Impressionist. (Art 4.2.2, 4.3.3)

Suggested Activities for Classroom Follow-Up

  • Provide class time for students to read books or online resources about the Indiana Dunes. Divide the class into small groups and assign each one a topic to explore, such as the unique landscape, the folklore, current environmental concerns, and contemporary arts from that region. Have each group present its findings to the whole class. Ask students: Are people still as interested in the Indiana Dunes as they were a century ago? Why or why not?
  • Provide students with both gouache and regular watercolor paints and give them time to experiment so that they see the differences. Ask them why an artist might use gouache for a plein air painting.