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South Carolina Shore Scene,
Xanthus Smith (1838-1929)

View Artist Bio
Oil on canvas
8 x 12
Status: Available

Xanthus Russell Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 26, 1839, the son of Russell Smith and Mary Priscilla Wilson Smith, both of whom were painters. As a lad he received his schooling at home and enjoyed the added enriching experiences of accompanying his father on a sketching trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in 1848 and journeying with both parents and his sister Mary, herself a budding young artist, to Europe at the age of twelve. About 1856 he entered the University of Pennsylvania where he studied medicine, but at the same time he attended drawing classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Subsequently he sought additional fine art instruction at London's Royal Academy.

Smith enlisted in the United States Navy in the second year of the War Between the States. Commissioned as a clerk, he was assigned to Captain Corbin, commander of the steam frigate Wabash, flagship of the blockading squadron at Charleston and Port Royal, South Carolina. In this capacity he came into close contact with squadron commander Admiral Samuel Du Pont, and the two men developed a warm friendship. When Du Pont was relieved of his duties in July 1863, Smith took leave and went with the Admiral to his Delaware home to assist him in writing his book on monitors. In May 1864 Smith returned to active service aboard the U. S. S. Augusta, which escorted monitors and coal ships from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to points farther south. In each arena in which he served, Smith sketched and painted sailing ships, monitors, and the naval actions that he witnessed. He also painted many War related scenes from the descriptions of others.  The Pennsylvania Academy owns Smith's paintings Surrender of the Tennessee, Sinking of the Cumberland, and Attack on Fort Fisher. Hanging in the club house of the Union League of Philadelphia are his The Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac and Kearsage and Alabama.

After the war Smith made his home at Edgehill, Pennsylvania, and maintained a studio in Philadelphia. He spent many summers in the White Mountains and on the coast of Maine, and attracted considerable renown for his landscapes of these places. However, it is for his drawings and paintings from the War Between the States that his work is valued by collectors of Southern art.

For more information on this artist and work, please contact us.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Robert M. Hicklin, Jr. Inc.


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