George Henry Smillie

Artist Biography

Born into an artistic family, George Smillie became a well-known landscape painter at the end of the nineteenth century. Raised in New York City, George first trained as an engraver under his father, James H. Smillie. He went on to study painting with James McDougal Hart, a leading member of the Hudson River School (and part of his own artistic dynasty). Smillie began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design at the age of twenty-two and became known for his polished, realistic landscapes. He made frequent painting trips to the Adirondack Mountains and the White Mountains; rode through the West with his brother James David Smillie, another established landscape painter, to sketch in the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite; and traveled to Europe in the 1870s. In 1881, he married Nellie Jacobs, a genre painter who had studied under his brother, and the three of them shared a painting studio in New York City for the next three decades.

Smillie’s style loosened as his career progressed, evolving from a traditional Hudson River School mode to a more vigorous impressionistic manner. He was a full member of the National Academy and served as its Secretary in 1892. He was also a member of the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, the American Watercolor Society, and the Society of Independent Artists. In addition to these institutions, he exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum, the Corcoran Gallery Biennial, the Salmagundi Club, the Lotos Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Centennial, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Columbian Exhibition of 1893, and the World’s Fair’s St. Louis Exposition of 1904. Today, his paintings are featured in such collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Newark Museum, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

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