Fine American amd European Paintings  - February 2015

[framed image available]

Russell Smith
(American, born Scotland, 1812-1896)
Jordan's Knob on Conococheague Creek, Pennsylvania, 1848
Oil on canvas, 23 × 30 inches
Signed and dated at lower left: "Russell Smith/1848"
Inscribed on the reverse: "Conecocheague near Fort Loudon Pa/Russell Smith/1848"

RS 687

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Russell Smith immigrated with his family to the United States in 1824 and settled near Pittsburgh. He began to paint theater scenery in 1827, and studied fine art with James Reid Lambdin (1807–1889) in 1828. Smith moved to Philadelphia in 1835 and became the scenery painter for local theaters. By 1838, the year that Smith married the noted teacher and floral painter Mary Priscilla Wilson (1819–1874), he was considered one of the country's foremost theatrical painters. He was also active throughout his long career as a landscape painter who was active in Virginia, New England, and throughout Pennsylvania. He exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Artists' Fund Society in Philadelphia, the Boston Athenaeum, and the American Art Union in New York. Smith's son Xanthus Smith (1839–1929) and daughter Mary Smith (1842–1878) were also professional artists.

This view of Jordan's Knob was painted before Smith and his family embarked on an extensive tour of Europe in 1851, during which he was influenced by old master landscape painters such as Claude Lorrain (1600–1682). Such early works reflect Smith's penchant for topographical views as well as his interest in unusual geological formations. One of his earlier views of Jordan's Knob had been engraved as an illustration for Charles B. Trego's A Geography of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1843), p. 247. Jordan's Knob is very likely the painting that the artist exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1848, no. 134, as The Conecocheague.



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