William Edouard Scott
Henry Ossawa Tanner
- Marion County
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William Edouard Scott was born in Indianapolis on March 11, 1884. He was well known as an artist not only for his talent, but for his ancestry also. He was part Native American, with Cherokee and Blackhawk grandparents, and part African American. He graduated from Manual High School, studying under Otto Stark, who encouraged him to pursue art. He went on to study at John Herron Art Institute, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Academy of Art in Paris under the well known H.O. Tanner. When studying in Chicago, he labored by sweeping the floors of the institution in order to earn his own tuition.
Later, Scott went on to become a teacher and assistant in the art department at Manual High School. He specialized in portraits and murals in post-impressionistic style- murals being what he was truly known for. From 1913 to 1964 he painted 26 murals, many of which were destroyed due to buildings being torn down. However, he also painted an additional 40 murals for Protestant and Catholic churches in Chicago during his time living there. Of his many murals, some prominent ones were located on: the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington D.C.; the Illinois Statehouse; the Indianapolis City Hospital (today Wishard Hospital); the courthouses in Ft. Wayne and Lafayette; and several public schools. His mural in Washington D.C. was of Frederick Douglas Appealing to President Lincoln, which won not only that particular mural contest, but national acclaim as well.
In 1931, Scott received the Julius Rosenwald fellowship to study in Haiti. While he was there for a year he became very influenced by the linear style of African Art and subsequently produced roughly 150 paintings. His work has since been shown all over the world, including: Atlanta; Buffalo; L.A.; Washington; Smithsonian Museums; Paris (Spring Salon & Salon La Loque); New York; Chicago; London (the Royal Academy); the Indiana State Museum, and more.
Despite having his leg amputated in 1957 because of diabetes, he still continued to work and paint. When he died he was survived by his wife of 40 years, Esther, and his daughter, Joan Wallace.
IMA Library Artist Files