Archibald Cary Smith (1837 - 1911)
Plum Island, 1866
Oil on canvas
10 x 18 inches
Signed at lower right: A. Cary Smith
Inscribed on stretcher bar (in pencil): Plum Island 1866
Archibald Cary Smith was a talented marine painter whose knowledge of the sea stemmed from his work as a yacht designer. His accomplishments included the design of the 1881 America's Cup defender, "Mischief," and also the historic yachts "Meteor," "Iroquois," "Resolute" and "Fortuna."
As a young man, he learned drafting and boat-building skills and studied painting with M.F.H. de Haas. The son of the ship-portrait painter Joseph B. Smith, Archibald worked as a shipwright in New York City until 1863.His seascapes combined the meticulous depiction of boats with a decidedly-romantic cast, involving perilous shipwrecks, roiling waves, and immense oceans. Many of his works incorporated elements of danger, a sense of the immensity of the ocean and uncontrolled environment--all a part of the prevalent 19th century romanticism.
He went on to lecture on naval architecture, create illustrations for popular magazines, and teach another prominent marine painter, James Gale Tyler. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Art Association, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
His paintings are relatively rare today. It is thought that he painted fewer than two hundred works, with several, including a large painting titled "Wanderer", in the collection of the New York Yacht Club where his patron was banker James Stillman.