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J. Ottis Adams Papers



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Personal and Professional Materials

Exhibition Materials


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J. Ottis Adams Papers, 1882-1951 | Indianapolis Museum of Art Archives

By Eliza Sparacino

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Collection Overview

Title: J. Ottis Adams Papers, 1882-1951Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1886-1928

ID: M/001

Primary Creator: Adams, J. Ottis (John Ottis) (1851-1927)

Extent: 2.5 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The collection is arranged into three series: Personal and Professional Materials, Exhibition Materials, and Journals.

Subjects: Adams, J. Ottis (John Ottis) (1851-1927), Art, American -- Indiana, Art Association of Indianapolis, Indiana, Artists--Indiana--Biography, John Herron Art Institute, Society of Western Artists

Forms of Material: brochures, checklists, clippings (information artifacts), correspondence, exhibition catalogs, notes

Languages: English


John Ottis Adams was born in 1851 in Amity, Indiana, and studied painting at the South Kensington Art School in London and the Royal Academy in Munich. He was one of the original five artists of the Hoosier Group. Adams began an art school in Muncie, Indiana, where he met his future wife, Winifred Brady, who was one of his pupils. Their home, The Hermitage, in Brookville, Indiana, was known as the "Indiana Barbizon" and hosted artists and summer art classes. Adams was one of the founders of the Society of Western Artists and was involved in the establishment of the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis. This collection of materials includes exhibition catalogues related to Adams' professional interests and many journal articles describing Adams' work and the exhibition of his paintings.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The first series, Personal and Professional Materials, includes business cards, clippings, a postcard from the artist Clifton Wheeler, small black and white reproductions of the J. Ottis Adams painting The Gleaners, 1886, and an anonymous painting of Mary Queen of Scots, as well as the Adams family's inventories of the collection. The second series, Exhibition Materials, consists of exhibition catalogues, announcements, and art association bulletins. The last series, Journals, includes journals with articles about J. Ottis Adams, Winifred Adams, and other artists of the Hoosier Group.

Collection Historical Note

The landscape painter John Ottis Adams was born in 1851 in Amity, Indiana, a small town south of Indianapolis. He attended Wabash College in 1871, but left a year later for the South Kensington Art School in London to study under John Parker. Adams returned to Indiana in 1876, eventually settling in Muncie.

In 1880 Adams returned to Europe, traveling to the Royal Academy in Munich to study with Gyula Benczúr. In Munich, Adams met two other painters from Indiana, Theodore Clement (T. C.) Steele and William Forsyth. After seven years in Munich, Adams returned to Muncie and opened an art school there with Forsyth. Adams also taught classes in Union City and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

In 1895 Adams, Forsyth and Steele were invited to exhibit at the Athenaeum Building in Chicago with two other Indiana painters, Otto Stark and Richard B. Gruelle. The exhibition, sponsored by the Central Art Association of Chicago, was named "The Hoosier Group," and the term was associated with the five artists throughout their artistic careers. Also in Chicago that year, Adams, Forsyth and Steele joined with other regional artists to form the Society of Western Artists. The mission of the Society was to promote Midwestern art and exhibitions of work by Society members and other artists circulated through the region annually. Adams was president of the Society of Western Artists from 1908-1910.

Adams and Steele purchased an estate together in Brookville, Indiana in 1897, which was later named "The Hermitage." The Hermitage hosted visiting artists and held summer art classes for the public. A decade later Adams became the sole owner of the property and The Hermitage became one of the Adams' family residences.

A year after acquiring the Hermitage, Adams married a still-life painter from Muncie, Winifred Brady. Winifred was the sister of Elizabeth Brady, who married Frank C. Ball, co-founder of the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Business (now Ball Corporation) and one of the founders of Ball State University. Winifred met Adams in 1889 when she was a student at the Muncie art school he founded.

Adams was instrumental in establishing the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis in 1902 and taught drawing and painting there until 1906. During this time, the Adams family began summering in Leland, Michigan. By 1910 Adams was in poor health and began spending the winters in Florida. He moved back to Indiana permanently in 1926 and passed away a year later. Adams is buried in Muncie.

Subject/Index Terms

Adams, J. Ottis (John Ottis) (1851-1927)
Art, American -- Indiana
Art Association of Indianapolis, Indiana
John Herron Art Institute
Society of Western Artists

Administrative Information

Repository: Indianapolis Museum of Art Archives

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.  Please contact the Archivist for more information.

Related Materials: An addition to this collection is available for research in the IMA Archives: J. Ottis Adams Papers Addition (M009). A related collection of primary source material documenting the life and times of J. Ottis Adams is also open for research in the IMA Archives: Reifel, J. Ottis Adams Research Collection (M010). For more information please see http://www.imamuseum.org/research/archives.

Preferred Citation: [Title of item], [Date],  [Container information], J. Ottis Adams Papers (M001), IMA Archives, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.

Other URL: http://www.imamuseum.org/sites/default/files/attachments/archives-M001.pdf

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal and Professional Materials],
[Series II: Exhibition Materials],
[Series III: Journals],

Series III: JournalsAdd to your cart.
Box 6Add to your cart.
Folder 90: All Arts Magazine, April 1926Add to your cart.
[Vol. 2, No. 4]
Folder 91: The American Student of Art, June 1906Add to your cart.
Published by the Art Students League of New York [Vol. 1, No. 6]
Folder 92: Art and Progress, April 1912Add to your cart.
[Vol. 3, No. 6]
Folder 93: Brush and Pencil, December 1898Add to your cart.
[Vol. 3, No. 3]
Folder 94: A Catalogue of Rare and Valuable Works of the Fine Arts, March-June 1904Add to your cart.

A Catalogue of Rare and Valuable Works of The Fine Arts, Bernard Quaritch, No. 228, London, March 1904

A Catalogue of Rare and Valuable Works of The Fine Arts, Bernard Quaritch, No. 229, London, April 1904

A Catalogue of Rare and Valuable Works of The Fine Arts, Bernard Quaritch, No. 231, London, June 1904

Folder 95: The Cross Keys of Kappa Kappa Kappa Society, September 1939Add to your cart.
The Cross Keys of KKK Sorority (Tri Kappa) [addressed to “Mrs. J. Otis Adams”; noted on front “Article about Hermitage”]
Box 7Add to your cart.
Folder 96: Fine Arts Journal, 1908, 1909Add to your cart.

[Vol. 19, No. 1 (January 1908)] [handwritten note p. 27; markings in margins, p. 29-31; insert: Chicago Sunday Tribune, November 5, 1933, clipping of J. Ottis Adams color reproduction]

[Vol. 20, No. 1 (January 1909)]

Folder 97: Harper’s Weekly, May 8, 1891Add to your cart.
[New York, Vol. 35, No. 1794]
Folder 98: The Indiana Woman, October 8, 1898Add to your cart.
[Vol. 6, No. 22] [handwritten on cover: page 11/14]
Folder 99: Metropolitan, June 1897Add to your cart.
[Vol. 5, No. 5] [handwritten on cover: Art Students League; bookmark p. 419, handwritten in margin: Winnie]
Folder 100: Modern Art, 1893, 1894Add to your cart.

[Vol. 1, No. 3 (Summer 1893)] [unpaginated; J. Ottis Adams reproduction, sheet 29]

[Vol. 1, No. 4 (Autumn 1893)] [insert: clipping from The Art Interchange]

[Vol. 11, No. 1 (Winter 1894)]

Folder 101: The Monitor Magazine, December 1902Add to your cart.
[Vol. 12, No. 5] [insert: section from Scribner’s Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 1 (January 1896)]
Folder 102: The Nationalist, July 1890Add to your cart.
[Vol. 2, No. 8] [handwritten note on cover and illegible signature on back cover]
Folder 103: The New Era, March 23, 1912Add to your cart.
[Vol. 2, No. 12] [noted on front page: page 11; article on J. O. A.]
Folder 104: The Reader, May 1906Add to your cart.
[Vol. 7, No. 6] [J. Ottis Adams color reproduction, p. 635]
Folder 105: The Sketchbook, 1903, 1906, 1097Add to your cart.

[Vol. 3, No. 4 (December 1903)]

[Vol. 5, No. 5 (January 1906)] [noted on cover: page 227; J. Ottis Adams reproduction]

[Vol. 7, No. 1 (December 1907)] [handwritten notes: p. 14: This is the back of our yard.; p. 15: Mr. Stark painted this in Southport.; p. 25: I suppose this was painted (?) in …ton(?) where M…(?) now lives.]

Folder 106: The Vagabond, October 1924Add to your cart.
[Vol. 2, No. 1]

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal and Professional Materials],
[Series II: Exhibition Materials],
[Series III: Journals],

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