Gene Stratton-Porter developed many friendships with naturalists, writers, and artists.
One such artist was that of Carl Arthur Faille (pronounced Fy). He credits Gene with
launching his career as she was the first person of note to appreciate his large paintings.
He said that Gene referred to him as “her painter man.” She noticed two of his large
landscape paintings in an Indianapolis art store in 1916. They had been left there to be
framed. She did not meet him at this time as he was painting that summer at Long’s Peak
in Colorado. It is believed that she purchased one of his large mountain scenes at this
In the spring of 1916, the H. Lieber Company of Indianapolis had a painting in its gallery
of C.A. Faille, which is how he signed his name professionally. The large canvas was of
pine trees, mountain peaks and clouds.
C. A. Faille was a native of Detroit. He was born Charles Failles to French parents who
had immigrated to Canada before coming to the United States. His father was Charles
Failles (the son dropped the “s”). When he was a boy, the family moved to Indianapolis
where his father owned the Charles Failles and Son Ostrich Feather Dye Works. It was
the only one like it in the state. Carl had four sisters, two of whom remained in
Indianapolis. He moved and lived between the east and west coasts with frequent visits to
Indiana. He also roamed the Rocky Mountains to paint and be among the wildlife.
In 1919, Gene commissioned her “painter man” to create a large painting entitled “Song
of Cradle-Making” to illustrate the poem Constance Lindsay Skinner had dedicated to
Gene. Sometime in late 1919 or early 1920, he created a sketch for Gene. She must have
been pleased with it because a 32x60 canvas was created. On Sunday, March 14 1920,
Gene came with friends to Laguna Beach where Carl was living. They came to celebrate
the completion of the large painting on canvas that brought the poem “to life.” They had
a luncheon on the beach. Gene was planning her first book based in California and
collected many specimens of seaweed, shells and wild flowers to take with her.
Laguna Beach made an impression on Gene. She said, “Laguna is one of the most
beautiful places she has ever seen and expressed a hope that the land along the front will
be preserved for a park, not only for the present, but for the future generations.”
David Buchanan, with the Indiana State Museum, produced a black and white photograph
from the museum’s collection. It is of the fireplace and mantel in Gene’s Rome City
home. A little over half of the painting was showing but it was enough to establish that it
was C.A. Faille’s painting. This confirms that Gene owned the painting and it once hung
in her home.
The writer and poet Constance Lindsay Skinner won a literary award in 1913 for the
“Song of Cradle-Making” which was about an Indian mother on the British Columbian
coast as she weaves the cradle for the child that is coming. Constance was a native of
British Columbia. Gene and Constance both had books published by Doubleday and
Page. Gene admired her poetry and the two women became friends. In Gene’s book,
“Michael O’Halloran,” she quoted a poem called “Song of the Search” by Constance.
When Gene’s secretary, Lorene Miller married Frank Wallace, Constance wrote a
“Wedding Song” for the occasion. Gene read the poem at their wedding which took place
in her home at Wildflower Woods in 1915.
Carl was an artist who shared his knowledge of painting and wildlife with others. He
taught young women to paint at a time when art was considered a “man’s profession.”
Like Gene, he was a conservationist. Gene encouraged him to give wildlife talks. He
became well known for his lectures. One was titled “The Reasoning Powers of Wild
Animals” about saving wildlife.
The artist lived a full and interesting life of travel and artistry. He died in January 1956 in
Newport Rhode Island and was buried in Wisconsin. He lived most of his life between
California and the east coast. Carl was married Joanne Mutschmann who survived him.
The painting titled “Song of Cradle-Making” was sold sometime after Gene’s death in
1924. The meaning of the painting and the connection to Gene had been lost. When the
painting was last sold it was titled simply “Indian maiden on shore.” The story behind the
painting gives one pause to look closer and deeper. It would be nice if this painting one
day made its way back to Indiana.
Writer’s Note: The first article on C.A, Faille was found on 1 Mar 2014. Seven months of
research from NY to CA followed. Article completed 25 Sep 2014.