Frank Vining Smith: Maritime Painting in the 20th Century

For Frank Vining Smith (1879- 1967), the nineteenth century clipper ship, like the cathedral of the Middle Ages, was one of man's most glorious accomplishments. As Monet had done with the cathedral, Smith painted the ship, featuring it in different angles and at different times of day. Having studied under the supervision of Frank W. Benson and Edmund Tarbell at the Museum School in Boston, Smith brought a new approach to the conservative art of marine painting. When looking at a painting by Smith, one does not see the blueprint of details that was common in ship painting at the turn of the century, instead one sees masses of shadows and the suggestion of details. Up close, it is difficult to see where one brushstroke ends and another begins, but seen from a distance, his compositions work perfectly, and is what contributor Peter Williams calls the alchemy of Smith's impressionism .