Smith's Archeological Journeys

A Joseph Lindon Smith painting

Thank you for sending me an image of your watercolor painting signed "J.S.L." It is undoubtedly painted by Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950), a noted American artist residing in Dublin, NH. Beginning in the late 1800s, Smith worked for years with Harvard University on archaeological digs in Egypt, recording - by painting - some of the first exciting archaeological discoveries in Egypt. Smith was also a friend and advisor to the famous Boston socialite, art collector and philanthropist, Isabella Stewart Gardener. In addition, Smith was one of the original members of the Dublin Art Colony, whose members included other famous American artists such as Rockwell Kent and Abbot Thayer.

I have been collecting Joseph Lindon Smith's work for many years and am pleased to own some of his oil paintings, watercolors and other objects pertaining to him: shards that Smith brought back from archaeological digs; a telegram sent when he was in Egypt; and a silk wall hanging given to him by Isabella Stewart Gardener.

My fascination with Egyptology began in the 1970s when I was lucky to go into Boston to see the King Tut exhibit with my family. Subsequently I learned about Joseph Lindon Smith and have always been drawn to his Egyptian renderings, particularly of the discoveries of archaeologist Howard Carter of Tutankhamen's tomb. Each time I see one of Joseph Lindon Smith's works I am a bit nostalgic in thinking about my affinity for archaeology and that family trip to the museum.

In addition to his archeological journeys, Smith was appointed the honorary curator of the Egyptian Department at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bostonand taught both at the museum and at Harvard. He was also the president for the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Your Joseph Lindon Smith watercolor is typical of his work as it depicts historical and architectural significance. Smith's dedication to archaeology and history was manifest in his work; he not only aimed to record the imagery accurately, but also he sought to capture the beauty of the time, place and sense of history. Smith's Egyptian paintings are his most famous, but he also painted in Italy, India and many other countries.

Often Smith would write down the location or subject of his work. Unfortunately, such notations do not accompany your painting. I cannot place the exact location, but it is a Roman scene depicting a triumphal arch, complete with stone carvings and ram's head capitals.

This watercolor was probably a sketch done while traveling and is a nice example of his work. Many of his oil paintings sell upwards of $10,000; I would value your watercolor in its present condition and frame at $750.

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