HENRY PEMBER SMITH (AMERICAN, 1854-1907) “COTTAGE BY THE LAKE”
Signed Henry P Smith lower left, in oil on canvas
Item # 709NXG20I
This very finely painted scene depicts a lakeside cottage during late spring, the tranquil water disturbed only by a pair of small ducks floating along the bank. In the grassy lawn a lone figure is pumping water from his well under a bright sky. The high-chroma palette with its' vivid greens and blues brings a cheery spirit to the scene. The inordinately excellent handling of the water is noteworthy, the impressionism in the reflections perfectly life-like while remaining dreamy hints of the reality behind the image; pods and light scum on the surface of the water are firm, while the rest of the water is a kaleidoscope of blurred reflections. It is signed in his typical block script in the lower left corner "Henry P Smith”. The work is presentation-ready, having been relined and conserved in the last decade.
Born in Waterford, Connecticut in 1854, Henry Pember Smith was entirely self-taught as a painter. He traveled extensively and painted numerous landscapes of Normandy, England Brittany and particularly of Venice. He developed a reputation for his work as a landscape artist and became commercially successful in his lifetime. The body of his work focused on escapism, paintings that idealized tranquility and the essence of a quiet countryside, following in the trend of his contemporaries to present work that would appeal to an ever urbanizing audience. His work is noteworthy for its’ handling of light and watery reflections, these treated with intricate brush work that just touched on impressionism, creating a dream-like effect that engendered nostalgia. Visions of homely cottages, farms by the waters edge, Venetian buildings on canals and small village centers are all painted in his very distinct stylizing. He maintained studios in New York City and exibitioned extensively at the Brooklyn Arts Association, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the National Academy of Design; he was also a member of the American Watercolor Society. His works are held in museums and institutions that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Art Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to list a few. He lived in the seaside town of Asbury Park, NJ until his death in 1907.
Measurements: 21 1/2” W x 1 5/8” D x 17 1/4” H [frame]; 16” W x 12” H [canvas]
Relined; period frame with minor gilding losses, probably original. Under UV showing spots of touch up, primarily to old craquelure; light surface craquelure throughout. Overall remaining in excellent presentation-ready condition.