Xanthus Russell Smith (1839-1929)

  • Xanthus Russell Smith (1839-1929)
  • Watering the Cows, 1883
  • Oil on panel
  • 10 x 8 inches
  • Signed, titled, and dated 1883, verso
  • Although he began his artistic career painting landscapes, Xanthus Smith established himself as a specialist in making detailed portrayals of historic Civil War marine battles and, in later life, as a photographer. He was born into a family of artists headed by his father William Russell Smith (1812-1896), whose parents had moved to the United States from their native Scotland around 1819.i By the time he was thirteen, William was in Philadelphia, apprenticed to James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889), who prepared him for his initial occupation painting theatrical scenery, which he later abandoned for a specialty in landscape painting. William married Mary Priscilla Wilson (died 1874), who was a flower painter and a teacher of French and Latin. It was she who schooled Xanthus (reportedly a sickly child) at home in rural Branchtown, near Philadelphia, where the family had moved when Xanthus was around
  • three years old, hoping to improve his health.ii At about this time Xanthus’s sister Mary (1842-1878) was born. She, too, became a professional artist and enjoyed her principal success as a painter of animal genre.iii

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Xanthus Russell Smith Watering the Cows, 1883
Xanthus Russell Smith Watering the Cows, 1883