Rainy Night, Etaples

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
25-1/2 x 31 in. 33 x 39-1/4 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of a Group of African-American Citizens of Indianapolis
Accession number
13.219
Collection
Currently On View

Rainy Night, Etaples depicts a street view of Etaples, a city in Normandy, France. Indianapolis native William Scott studied in France with the celebrated African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner. Etaples, Tanner’s summer residence, was the subject of several of Scott’s paintings.

The scene is almost completely shrouded in darkness, but the wet pavement reflects rays of light emanating from two street lamps and a window.

The blue-green palette, subdued tonality, and dramatic light recall Tanner’s style, while the loosely brushed composition demonstrates the restrained Impressionist technique that dominated Scott’s European work.

 

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William Edouard Scott and Henry Ossawa Tanner

Indianapolis native William Edouard Scott was a graduate of Emmerich Manual Training High School and briefly attended Saturday school at the John Herron Art Institute. He became the first African American to teach in the Indianapolis Public Schools. He studied first at the Art Institute of Chicago and then, in France. Though a versatile painter, Scott was primarily known as a muralist. His murals can be found in numerous buildings, including schools, government buildings, funeral homes, and churches. He traveled to Haiti to paint the region.

Shortly after Scott arrived in France in 1909, the celebrated African American expatriate artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner, invited him to stay at his summer home in Normandy. A few years later, Scott depicted the area around Tanner’s home in Rainy Night, Étaples. Tanner’s influence is evident in the painting’s blue-green palette, subdued tonality, and dramatic lighting. The loosely brushed, spontaneous composition demonstrates the restrained impressionist technique that dominated Scott’s European work. The building in the painting was identified as the town hall in Étaples, France.

Taylor, William E. and Harriet G. Warkel. A Shared Heritage: Art by Four African Americans. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1996.