FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lenox, MA June 22, 2010 – Hard Press Editions is pleased to announce the publication of Frank Vining Smith: Maritime Painting in the 20th Century, the most comprehensive survey of one of America’s greatest marine artists. Influenced by the New England shore of his youth, Smith is known for his versatility, color palette and realism—capturing every line of rigging, sail plan and line of a ship’s hull with unerring accuracy that captivated brash sailors and the general public alike. Perhaps best known for his majestic clipper ships along the New England shore, Smith was a prolific artist and illustrator whose subject matter went beyond his portrayal of the nautical world to include works depicting the great outdoors in a career that spanned both World War I and World War II and beyond.
From clipper ships to schooners to whalers, Hard Press Editions casts the spotlight on Frank Vining Smith (1879-1967), prolific maritime painter of the Golden Age of Sail.
Born in Whitman, Massachusetts in 1879, Frank Vining Smith summered on Cape Cod and made Hingham, Massachusetts his home. Unable to enter the Navy, he focused on painting—combining it with his love of all things nautical. Smith enrolled at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and studied under Frank Benson, Philip L. Hale & Edmund C. Tarbell. He then studied at the Central Ontario School of Art in Canada and, finally, at the Art Students League in New York City. Smith began working as an illustrator for the Boston Herald at the age of twenty-three and also executed many illustrations and paintings for the Boston Journal, Outdoors, Field & Stream, and Yachting. His illustrations came to define a generation enjoying the pastime of “leisure and the great outdoors.” Many of Smith’s illustrations are reproduced in this book for the first time.
At the age of 47, Smith was able to paint full-time. World War II brought a resurgence of patriotism and, for Smith, a broadening list of patrons and commissions. His clients included such captains of industry as Josiah K. Lilly Jr. (of Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals fame), fine art connoisseur and museum founder Julian de Cordova and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Smith’s ability to transform a common scene of antiquity into a vibrant and modern one, garnered him critical and financial success during his lifetime.
The extensive collection of works in this title is an invitation to rediscover Smith’s admiration for maritime traditions and brilliance as an artist.
A comprehensive exhibition entitled “The Art of Frank Vining Smith” is scheduled to debut at the Heritage Museums & Gardens, June 26 through October 31, 2010.
Author James Craig was the associate curator for collections at the Cape Ann Historical Museum from 2003 to 2007. This is Craig’s third title. Craig’s Fitz H. Lane: An Artist’s Voyage through Nineteenth Century America (The History Press, 2006) was awarded the Gloucester Historical Commission Preservation Award in 2007. He is an independent consultant to fine art collectors, antique dealers and museums. He resides in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Hard Press Editions, in Lenox, Massachusetts, has published Artist Monographs, Art Criticism, Art Theory, Fine Art Prints, Fiction and Poetry since 1992.
With an astounding body of work that traverses both World War I and II, the maritime paintings of Frank Vining Smith embody a surge of American pride, patriotism and a love of American craftsmanship and naval pursuits. While painters at the turn of the century were depicting land and seascapes in the newly introduced Impressionistic style, Smith, hailing from Cape Cod, was able to augment the maritime scene by way of Impressionism in a very unique way. Spanning his entire career, his unique application of color and stroke, clarity of light and playful palette, gave what would have been a very staid and common scene of antiquity, a vibrancy that was undoubtedly modern. Smith celebrated with the nation its nostalgia and admiration for the great outdoors, sportsmanship, naval vessels and the sea.
With historical and biographical information keenly woven in place by author James A. Craig and a concise and thought-provoking analysis of Vining Smith’s artistic career by Peter Williams, Frank Vining Smith: Maritime Painting in the 20th Century is the definitive survey of America’s last true marine artist. Divided into eight chapters, text is supported with over 70 color plates, photographs and reproductions of Smith’s work from childhood illustrations, print and advertising work that appeared […] Continue Reading…
To understand the importance of Frank Vining Smith as an artist, one must first appreciate the huge impact that nineteenth century French painting had on Boston collectors, artists, and their teachers at the turn of the last century, when Smith was an art student in that city. The work of Monet was especially interesting to Bostonians, as attested by Trevor J. Fairbrother, a former curator of paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
The seriousness of the Bostonians who had begun to collect Impressionist art was confirmed in 1892 when the St. Botolph Club exhibited twenty-one landscape paintings by Monet, all borrowed from local collectors… Two more Monet exhibitions were organized by the St. Botolph Club in 1895 and in 1899, and in 1905 the Copley Society showed ninety-five paintings by Monet and eleven sculptures by Rodin. All these events confirmed that Monet was the Impressionist most Bostonians admired.
Boston artists such as John Singer Sargent, Dennis Bunker, Theodore Wendell, Lila Cabot Perry, John Leslie Breck flocked to France to paint with Monet at Giverny. Smith’s painting teachers at the Museum School, Frank Weston and Edmund Tarbell, went to study in Paris at the Academie Julian where they learned drawing […] Continue Reading…
These sentiments would be echoed in the Post the following year as well:
THE annually recurrent exhibition of paintings of ships and the sea by Frank Vining Smith at the Anderson Galleries always makes an agreeable event about this season. Some thirty of Mr. Smith’s new canvases have just been hung at Anderson’s, and the impression they give is possibly more favorable than it has been in the past.
Even granting the sea’s changeless, ever-changing character and the myriad sorts and conditions of ships that sail it, Mr. Smith’s fertility and inventiveness appear more remarkable than ever in this exhibition. His knowledge of his subject is profound, in the opinion of sailors, who are always harsh critics. His ability to paint workmanlike pictures has long been established. But the ease with which he continues to find variations on a now familiar theme remain surprising.
There are only one or two instances of sameness in the whole exhibition, and these appear to be intentional. It seems that there is only one way to paint a graceful clipper ship, and that is head on, with all sails set.
The impression Frank Smith’s art left with the people of Chicago can not be understated. Sales throughout […] Continue Reading…
Paintings by Frank Vining Smith are at Doll & Richards, Newbury street, [sic] Jan. 29-Feb. 10.
To be dramatic without being theatrical is an important part of Mr. Smith’s professional equipment. Trained as an illustrator, Smith had a marked readiness in selecting compelling motives for depiction. Innate and trained good taste enabled him to register these motivations in a broad, simple, and dignified way. He ennobles his subjects without departing from actuality. He tells you about something happening without the subject becoming anecdotal.i
Chicago art critics in the 1920s were quite vocal in their appreciation for his work. Local reviewers proclaimed of his large canvases, “These pictures, in spite of their accuracy and fidelity to fact, have a large and graceful decorative quality,”ii while his smaller compositions drew from them no lesser praise:
In the smaller pictures, action is the keynote. They are terse statements of specific episodes, all of them truthful as well as picturesque, and always conscientiously designed and painted. In spite of their vigor, there is no haste or carelessness about Mr. Smith’s workmanship.iii
Chicago appears to have been as eager and receptive a market for Frank Smith’s work as his native Boston –if not even more so. His exhibitions […] Continue Reading…
Frank Vining Smith
“Uncharted Seas” and Other Interesting Marine Pieces by Boston Painter at Doll & Richards’s Gallery
Mr. Frank Vining Smith is holding his first Boston exhibition of paintings at the Doll & Richards Gallery, 71 Newbury street, [sic] until November 18. He is a marine painter of distinct merit, who has had an excellent training in his art, and has specialized mainly in illustration.i
With this blunt, simple statement serving as a herald’s trumpet, so was Frank Vining Smith’s grand entrance into the world of fine art first announced. It was in the early winter of 1921 that Smith experienced the excitement and anxiety of his first one-man show, an event that did not fail to draw notice from the Boston papers despite its having only a brief run lasting from November 8thth to the nineteenth of that year.ii Declarations that his work was “distinctly decorative, not to say splendid”iii and “rendered with verisimilitude and dramatic effect”iv readily spilled from the lips of reviewers, while the “warm sunlight”v and “really beautiful and airy sky”vi found within his pieces were particularly commended. Exhibiting an array of varying nautical themes with which to demonstrate his skills and entice interested buyers we find […] Continue Reading…