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Fine American amd European Paintings  - February 2015
 
 

 
[framed image available]

Mary Russell Smith
(American, 1842-1878)
Three Chicks with Flowers
Oil on canvas, 10 × 14 inches
Signed at lower left: "Mary Smith."
 

RS 6503


Mary Russell Smith was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of the artists Russell Smith (1812–1896) and Mary Priscilla Wilson Smith (1819–1874); her brother Xanthus Smith (1839–1929) was a well-known marine painter. At an early age, Mary gravitated to sketching animals and insects directly from nature. She began to specialize in painting barnyard scenes peopled by chicks. The early art critic Henry Tuckerman described her work as being "remarkable for grace, fidelity, and skill in delineation of the feathered tribe—her special branch." Mary exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts between 1859 and 1869, and from 1876 through 1878. She also exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1868. She suffered from chronic ill health and never married, leading a relatively isolated life at the family home Edgehill, north of Philadelphia.

During her brief career, Mary Smith painted approximately three hundred pictures such as this example, and she never replicated a composition after it had been sold. This painting retains its original frame that bears the label of James Earle and Sons, a gallery and artists' supply store in Philadelphia where Mary sold some of her paintings.

 



  


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