Harry Davis 1939
Harry Davis with “Harvest Dinner”, 1939

CARMEL, IN- Having a rare combination of technical ability and teaching skill, Harry Allen Davis (1914-2006) stands out as an artist whose 37 years as a professor of drawing and painting at Herron School of Art impacted the careers of hundreds of artists, past and present.

On September 13, an auction of paintings contained in Harry’s estate will be held at Wickliff Auctioneers in Carmel, IN. The September date is the first of many auctions to be conducted to sell the hundreds of paintings, drawings and sketches in the estate collection.

In addition, the auction will include numerous paintings by Harry’s wife, Lois, an accomplished artist herself who taught painting at the Indianapolis Art League for nearly 30 years. Lois now resides in Texas, near her son, Mark, and at the age of 91, is conducting art classes in her senior living community.

Lois is scheduled to attend the gallery preview on Friday, September 12, with a reception in her honor to be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is open to the public, and doors will open at 2 p.m. The Disco Mountain Boys, a five-piece, bluegrass/folk acoustic band led by renown Indiana artist, C.W. Mundy, will perform from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Harry sought to make his art available to the public, and received numerous awards for his exhibitions in multiple shows and annual juried art contests. In Indiana, he is one of the most awarded artists in the history of the Hoosier Salon (instituted in 1925 and considered Indiana’s most historic and visible annual art exhibition), and was a perennial award winner in the Indiana Artist’s Annual exhibition at the Herron Museum. In addition to the other public, juried shows in which Harry participated, he also had over 60 one-man shows at museums, galleries and public institutions in Indiana.

In 1938, the same year that Harry received his BFA from Herron, he was awarded the coveted Prix de Rome for Painting (a scholarship prize which afforded the opportunity to study for four years at the American Academy in Rome) at the national exhibition in New York, NY, for his regionalist painting “Harvest Dinner”, depicting a rural Indiana family.

In 1941 he was named Artist-in-residence at Beloit College, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the Army in 1942, designing camouflage in North Africa. In 1944, he became a combat artist with the Fifth Army Historical unit in Italy, and the drawings and paintings completed during this time are property of the War Department at the Pentagon. One of his Army sketchbooks was found in the estate collection and will be offered in the September auction. Following his tenure in the Army, Davis began teaching at Herron in 1946, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1983. In Harry’s memory, the Herron Alumni Association annually presents the Harry A. Davis Faculty award, to any instructor who has demonstrated an outstanding and extraordinary commitment to Herron students.

Darin Lawson, CAI, President of Wickliff Auctioneers, stated, “We’re honored to have been chosen by the Davis family to bring this collection to the art-buying public, and we recognize the significance of Harry’s career on art and artists in Indiana.”
Lawson said all items in the auction, including photos and descriptions, will be posted online for preview and pre-bidding on or before September 6.

Approximately 60 paintings from the Davis estate will be featured in the auction, slated to also include art by other historic Indiana artists, including Theodore Clement (T.C.) Steele (1847-1926). “Harry’s work as an artist and teacher in Indiana puts him in the same category as other historic Indiana painters who elevated the level of art and art appreciation in our state, and it’s appropriate to put his paintings alongside those of artists like Steele, whose paintings are still highly-desired among collectors.”

Wickliff Auctioneers is regarded as Indiana’s Leading Fine Arts Auctioneers, and has been selling fine art, decorative arts, and antiques since 1991. More information about the auction is available at or by calling 317-844-7253.