Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Frederick Webb Ross (1885-1963?)

Frederick Webb Ross was born in Shelbyville, Indiana, on March 19, 1885, and attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. After studying art under William Forsyth in Indianapolis, Ross traveled to New York City, where he studied at the famed Art Students League. He also kept a studio in Washington Square. One of his instructors in New York was a fellow Hoosier, the renowned painter and teacher, William Merritt Chase.

A century ago, in 1911, Ross embarked for Europe, studying in France and traveling in France, Italy, and England. Little else is known of him and his career, although it is known that Ross worked as an illustrator, painter, and muralist. In June 1934, he completed a mural in his New York studio, one that was shipped to Terre Haute, Indiana, for reassembly at the Federal Building then under construction. Ross's mural, a twenty-foot-by-twenty-foot triptych depicting the signing of the Magna Carta, is still in place, having survived what was for a time an uncertain fate. The Federal Building is being renovated and will soon be home to the Indiana State University College of Business. You can read more about the building and the mural on the website of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, here.

Ross may also have been involved in architecture and interior design. His date of death is unknown, although it may have been in April 1963.

"The Signing of the Magna Carta," a mural executed by Indiana artist Frederick Webb Ross and on display at the Federal Building in Terre Haute, Indiana. The photograph is by the Terre-Haute Star-Tribune. The man in the picture is unidentified. Believe it or not, this is the better of only two images I could find on the Internet showing the mural. It and the room that houses it are pretty grand. They deserve more publicity.

Caption and text copyright 2011 by Terence E. Hanley


  1. David A Evans. Indiana State UniversityMay 31, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    The man in the picture is Brian Duncan-Director of Construction and Improvements-Facilities Management-Indiana State University