Water color, 13.25 x 22.75 inches/Signed lower left
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Francis Smith, born in Baltimore, Maryland, was the great grandson of Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Both his great-grandfather and Smith’s father, Francis Smith, were men of the arts and sciences, and Smith followed in their footsteps. Unfortunately, financial difficulties resulted in his having to forego college and taking employment in his brother’s iron foundry. After the Civil war Smith again found employment in a foundry; this time in New York. However, he quit this job and found something more aligned with his skills—business and design. He and a co-worker and artist at the foundry, James Symington, founded an engineering/design firm. Over the next 30 years the firm was contracted to construct the Race Rock Lighthouse (Fisher’s Island, New York); Block Island Breakwater (Rhode Island); the sea wall on Staten Island; Stone ice-breaker (Bridgeport, Connecticut); jetties at the mouth of the Connecticut River (Long Island Sound); and the foundation of the Statue of Liberty (New York Harbor), which were among the firm’s many projects. Smith enjoyed sketching and painting, but did not comingle art with business. Instead he would sketch during his vacations—White Mountains (New Hampshire); Cuba; Mexico; Venice (Italy); Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) and the Netherlands. Self-taught, Smith preferred to paint en plein air as opposed to composing his scenes in the studio. A skilled story-teller, Smith wrote of his travels, illustrating them with his sketches and publishing them as travelogues during the 1880s and 1890s. Further, his considerable skill in weaving story narratives resulted in a number of his short stories and novels being published. It was during the 1880s that he was able to devote a larger portion of his time on painting. Smith was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and joined a number of art organizations--the Tile Club; American Academy of Arts and Letters (NYC); American Watercolor Society (Treasurer 1873 – 1878); Brooklyn Art Association; Cincinnati Art Club; Tile Club, Philadelphia Art Club; and Society of Illustrators (NYC). He exhibited at the Pan-American Exhibition (1901, Buffalo, NY, bronze medal); South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition (1901, Charleston, SC, silver medal); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1902, Philadelphia, PA); American Art Society (1902, NYC, gold medal); Louisiana Purchase Exhibition (1904, St. Louis, MO); and the Art Institute of Chicago. Smith was also awarded the Order of the Mejiddieh (1898); and the Order of Osmanieh (1900).