Francis Hopkinson Smith
(1838 - 1915)
Francis Hopkinson Smith was active/lived in New York, Maryland. Francis Smith is known for landscape and genre painting, illustration, architecture.
Francis Hopkinson Smith
Biography from the Archives of askART
Francis Hopkinson Smith, noted as an engineer, artist, and storyteller,
was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 23, 1838. He was the son of
Francis and Susan (Teackle) Smith, and great-grandson of Francis
Hopkinson, an artist-poet-musician and one of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence.
Biography from Blake Benton Fine Art, Artists S - Z
Francis' father, who was to
appear later as a character in the semi- autobiographical novel, 'The
Fortunes of Oliver Horn', seems to have been a man of unusual gifts: a
mathematician, a philosopher, and amateur musician who invented a new
musical instrument. Like his father, the younger Francis was endowed
with versatility, following during his lifetime three successive
careers, all of which brought him fame.
Although he prepared for
college, financial difficulties made it necessary for him to go into
business immediately. He began as a shipping clerk in a hardware store
and became, shortly afterward, assistant superintendent in the iron
foundry that belonged to his elder brother.
At the close of
the Civil War he moved to New York, working again in the office of a
foundry until his indignation over the unfair business dealings of his
employer led him to quit his job. With a partner, James Symington, he
went into engineering, a career that he followed for the next thirty
He was responsible for several difficult feats of
construction that won him success, among them, the Block Island
breakwater; the sea wall at Tompkinsville, Staten Island; the
foundations for the Statue of Liberty; and, most difficult of all, the
Race Rock Lighthouse, eight miles out to sea with a seven mile per hour
During these years working as an engineer, Smith's
hobby was painting, an occupation which he preferred to keep separate
from the business of making money. He made many friends among the
younger artists, and as a member of the New York Tile Club, illustrated
several books, including A Book of the Tile Club, to which he
contributed anonymous sketches and stories.
There followed two
books of travel sketches, charming drawings to which he began to add
his impressions in prose. These proved popular and brought him wide
recognition as an artist. With more leisure, he devoted the greater
part of his time to painting, spending his summers abroad, exhibiting,
and publishing his drawings.
Almost accidentally he entered on
his third career when he was more than fifty years old. Known as an
excellent raconteur, he decided to put into print some of his famous
after-dinner stories, and from these grew his first book of fiction,
'Colonel Carter of Cartersville', the delightful tale of an old
Virginia gentleman. When this book proved successful he abandoned his
engineering career completely and spent the rest of his life writing,
lecturing, and painting.
Smith's appearance was that of a
prosperous banker rather than an artist. He was tall and vigorous, with
sweeping white mustaches. A man who won affection and respect, he
carried on his various activities with energy until the last days of
his life. He died in New York on April 7, 1915, at the age of
seventy-seven, leaving his wife, the former Josephine Van Deventer, and
Hopkinson Smith, artist, engineer, orator, author, illustrator, born in
Baltimore, Maryland, on October 23, 1838. He was the son of Francis and
Susan Teackle Smith, and great-grandson of Francis Hopkinson,
(1737-1791), "American composer, author, and politician, born in
Philadelphia. His musical compositions include the song My Days Have
Been So Wondrous Free, the first piece of secular music written by an
American, and The Temple of Minerva, considered the first American
opera. A lawyer, Hopkinson signed the Declaration of Independence, was
a member of the Constitutional Convention, held various posts in the
new U.S. government. He wrote several brilliant satires attacking the
British, such as The Battle of the Kegs (verse, 1778)." ("Hopkinson,
Francis," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2001)
Biography from Roger King Fine Art
Smith was raised in an atmosphere of artistic and academic achievement.
His father, an avid reader and intellectual, always tried to impart
knowledge to his children. All this was not lost on Francis who at "an
early age demonstrated exceptional ability in mathematics, business,
and design" just as his father did.
Intent on going to college
after grade school, Francis ran into some financial difficulty that
forced him to go to work immediately. He first worked as a shipping
clerk and then shortly afterward he took a job working in his older
brother's iron foundry. Later he moved to New York and used the former
experience in his brother's iron foundry to gain employment in the
office of another foundry. There he met James Symington a fellow worker
with whom he later pursued a career in engineering. Smith's engineering
firm was in business for thirty years, contracting many projects with
the Federal Government, including the building of the Race Rock
Lighthouse, the Block Island Breakwater, the sea wall on Staten
Island, the foundations for the Statue of Liberty, and the
architectural plans for the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse.
free time, Smith painted as a hobby (remarkably he was self-taught as
an artist) and wrote many notable books, some of which he illustrated,
including a best seller, his novel Caleb West: Master Diver (1898),
recounting his construction of the Race Rock Lighthouse. In total he
was the author of twelve novels and numerous magazine articles, many of
these were first-hand accounts of his travels abroad in Europe, Mexico,
and Turkey. Inspiration for his art came from the remote places he
chose to visit and "he certainly captured the sights and soul of these
exotic places." Smith's works proved popular and brought him wide
recognition as an artist.
With the success of his business and
as time went on he devoted the greater part of his time to painting,
spending his summers abroad, exhibiting, and publishing his drawings.
Some of his works, especially those of Venice, (he spent almost every
summer in Venice over a thirty year period) are "en plain air." He was
known for landscapes, portraits, farms, Europe, canals, and boats as
well as others. Almost accidentally he entered on his third career when
he was more than fifty years old. Known as an excellent raconteur, he
decided to put into print some of his famous after-dinner stories, and
from these grew his first book of fiction, Colonel Carter of
Cartersville, the delightful tale of an old Virginia gentleman.
this book proved successful he abandoned his engineering career
completely and retired to a life of travel, painting and writing in
Spain, Italy, and Constantinople. Although he painted with various
materials, watercolor was smith's favorite medium and he preferred to
work outdoors in natural settings as opposed to studio work.
won many honors and awards during his lifetime including; Bronze medal,
Buffalo Expo., 1901; silver medal, Charleston Expo., 1902; gold medal,
Philadelphia Art Club, 1902; gold medal, American Art Society, 1902;
Commander Order of the Mejidieh, 1898; and the Order of Osmanieh by the
Sultan of Turkey, 1900.
He was a member of the American Academy of Arts
and Letters; American Society; Civil Engineers; American Watercolor
Society; Philadelphia Art Club; Cincinnati Art Club and others.
in New York on April 7, 1915, at the age of seventy-seven.
The versatile and talented F.H. Smith enjoyed succesful careers as an engineer, artist, and writer. After the Civil War, he and partner James Symington established the engineering firm they were to run for thirty years, undertaking the construction of the foundation for the Statue of Liberty, the Block Island breakwater, the Staten Island seawall, and the Race Rock lighthouse.
Biography from Newman Galleries
Smith was self taught as a painter. He illustrated some of his own books, which included twelve novels and numerous travel journals. His books proved so popular that he was able to retire from engineering and devote his time to travel.
Smith was a popular speaker and raconteur, and his after-dinner stories provided the basis of his first novel. For over thirty years he spent summers in Venice, painting "en plein air" in watercolor, his favorite medium. With Arthur Quartley and Charles Stanley Reinhart, Smith was part of the artist colony at Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
He illustrated books, sketches and stories for the New York Tile Club, of which he was a prominent member. He won many awards, exhibiting at the Brooklyn Art Association, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Boston Art Club, the Pan-American Exposition (1901), and the Charleston Exposition (1902). His work is highly collected and is in many museum collections including the Albright Art Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, Columbus Museum, Corcoran Gallery, Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Smithonian, and others.
F. Hopkinson Smith was born in 1838, in Baltimore, Maryland. He
was a self-taught artist known primarily for his landscape paintings
and illustrations. He was the treasurer of the American Watercolor
Society from 1873 to 1878, a member of the Philadelphia and Cincinnati
Art Clubs, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Society
of Illustrators (both in NYC).
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He exhibited at the National
Academy of Design in New York City, the Brooklyn Art Association, the
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Boston Art Club, among
others. The Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Albright Art Gallery
in Buffalo collected Smith's work.
After the Civil War, Smith
worked as a naval engineer with fellow artist J. Symington. They built
the foundation for the Statue of Liberty and many breakwaters. By
the 1880's, he had given up engineering in order to paint (a hobby
until then), travel, write, and lecture. He was noted especially for
his watercolors and charcoal drawings, many of which appeared in his
books of travel.
Smith and his fellow artists, Arthur Quartly
and Charles Stanley Reinhart, were part of an artists' colony that
developed at Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
He was the author of Col. Carter of Cartersville, Fortunes of Oliver Horn, and American Illustrators.
The artist died in 1915, in New York City.
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