Eldred's - Auctioneers, Appraisers

Allen Smith Jr.

Allen Smith Jr.: Portrait of a mother and daughter<br>Sold at Eldred's in 2012 for $4887.50

Portrait of a mother and daughter
Sold at Eldred's in 2012 for $4887.50


1810 - 1890

Born in Massachusetts in 1810, Allen Smith, Jr. moved to New York City to study in the 1830s. In 1841 he set west to Cleveland, Ohio, which was a rapidly growing commercial center thanks to its proximity to Lake Erie and the recently completed Erie canal. Smith’s portrait work was quickly noticed by prominent citizens and he established himself as the leading portrait painting in Cleveland.

In tough times Smith, a father of eight, would supplement his income by touching up portrait photographs with oil paint for various local studios. It is perhaps this work that influenced the photo-realistic faces featured in many of his portraits.

Smith was not exclusively a portrait painter; he also produced skillful genre paintings and landscapes. Records indicate he submitted genre paintings to the National Academy of Design in 1842 and the American Art Union in 1846, 1848 and 1849. The only known example of these works is perhaps the artist’s masterpiece: “The Young Mechanic” (currently in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Submitted in 1848, the work is a brilliant example of American genre painting with its depiction of the interior of a wood shop with children negotiating the whittling of a new mast for a toy boat.

Last updated: July 27, 2012

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