Francis Hopkinson Smith

(American, 1838 - 1915)

Francis Hopkinson Smith was born in Baltimore into a family with strong artistic interests. His grandfather Joseph Hopkinson, a lawyer and jurist, had exerted considerable influence through his writings on art and his position as first president of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Francis Hopkinson Smith first had a successful career as an engineer. Although he had no formal art training, he devoted most of his spare time to drawing and painting. He gave up his first profession by the age of fifty, by which time he had gained recognition as a painter, illustrator, lecturer, and author of fiction and travel pieces--many of which he illustrated himself. Many of his watercolors were executed in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where he spent several weeks each summer between 1865 and 1880. Beginning in the mid-1880s, Smith spent part of each summer in Venice, where he painted many oils and watercolors. He also traveled and worked throughout Italy and in Mexico, Spain, Turkey, and France. The Inn of William the Conqueror in Normandy–the setting for his 1912 novel, which became quite a financial success--provided a favorite subject for his art as well. In addition to the American Water-Color Society and the Brooklyn Art Association, Smith showed at the American Art Society in New York (gold medal, 1902), the Buffalo Exposition (bronze medal, 1901), the Charleston Exposition (silver medal, 1902), the Cincinnati Art Club, and the Philadelphia Art Club (gold medal, 1902) and the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Smith was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Tile Club in New York. His work is in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.; the Denver Art Museum; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City; Missouri, and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.