Randolph Coates


Randolph Coates


Oil on Board
11 x 14 inches

Signed Lower Right

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Randolph Lasalle Coats (1891-1957) was born in Richmond, Indiana and by 1917 was considered a professional painter by the leading artists in the state.  He studied at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis with William Forsyth, one of the Hoosier Group, in 1908 -1909, 1911, 1913 -1915.  He also studied at the Cincinnati Academy of Fine Arts under Frank Duveneck (1848 - 1919) and James R. Hopkins (1877 - 1969), where he taught for four years.  He also taught at the Herron School of Art in 1922 where he was described by one of his students as being “encouraging and helpful.”     

Coats also taught at the Art Association of Richmond (Indiana) from 1923 -1928.  A distinctive style of painting had developed in Richmond, Indiana different from other Indiana "schools."  The Richmond School consisted of landscape painters primarily self-taught who captured the natural beauty of this region of Indiana, particularly the Whitewater River valley with its gorge and bluffs just outside of Richmond.  Coats was identified in a 1985 exhibition held in Richmond and Portland, Indiana as being in the second generation of the Richmond School artists.  However, his background and later work were closer to the Hoosier Group's William Forsyth (1854 - 1935), T. C. Steele (1847-1926), and Otto Stark (1859-1926) in that he also studied in Europe and did not limit his subject to a particular geographic area.  Coats lived and kept studios in Indianapolis and during summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  In 1924 and 1925, he and his former teacher, James R. Hopkins, then artist in residence at Ohio State University and later its Art Department Chairman, had a summer art school there.  Coats spent some time in the Smoky Mountains and visited Indiana's Brown County to paint around those artists who followed Steele there to form Indiana’s most famous art colony. 

In addition to his landscapes, Coats was well-known for his portrait and figure painting.  In 1946 he painted the official portrait of Indiana Governor Ralph F. Gates (Republican - 1945-1949) and in 1952 the official portrait of Indiana Governor Henry F. Schricker (Democrat - 1941-1945, 1949-53).  He also performed an extensive restoration project on 36 of the other Governor’s portraits in 1953. Coats also made two documentary films, One Hundred Years of Art and Artists of Indiana and New England Art Colonies.

Coats was a member of the Hoosier Salon, Indiana Masonic Lodge, Chicago Art Galleries and the Cincinnati Art Club. He received many awards for his painting and his works can be found in many public collections.  Coats was a charter member and President of the Indiana Artists’ Club, which was organized on January 23, 1917 in Indianapolis by a group of professional artists including the Hoosier Group’s William Forsyth, T. C. Steele, and Otto Stark.  Coats and the other founding artists efforts live on.  In 2009, the Club held its 77th annual juried exhibition.


Sources include: 

The Herron Chronicle by Harriet Garcia Warkel, Martin F. Krause, S. L. Berry (Indiana University Press, 2003); The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, 1994); A Walk in the Woods: The Art of John Elwood Bundy (1853-1933) by William H. Gerdts (Indianapolis: Eckert Fine Art, 2000); the websites of the Indiana Artists Club, the Indiana Historic Bureau and others.

Researched and written by John A. McKinney, Jr