Walter Granville-SmithAmerican, 1870–1938
Born in South Granville, New York on 28 January 1870, Walter Granville-Smith, reportedly produced the first color illustration in America, which appeared in Godey's Lady Magazine, in conjunction with a story entitled "The Christmas Witch," by Gertrude Atherton. Others of his illustrations appeared in such publications as Harper's, Scribner's, Truth and Collier's. The most popular of these subjects was women depicted in either interior or out-of-door scenes
Granville-Smith, however, counted success in more than simply illustration. Winning numerous prizes from such institutions as the National Academy of Design, the Carnegie Institute, the American Water Color Society and the Salmagundi Club, of which he was a member, Granville-Smith was propelled to popularity. He worked in oil, watercolor, etching and combinations of the three, strengthening his skills and talent under the tutelage of such artists as Walter Satterlee, J. Carroll Beckwith and Willard Metcalf, both at the Art Students League of New York, and abroad. Granville-Smith's exhibition record is phenomenal: at the Boston Art Club (1898-1909), fifty years at the National Academy of Design (1890-1940), at the Pennsylvania Academy (1904-28), at the Art Institute of Chicago (1896-1925), at the Corcoran biennials (1907-37), and at the Carnegie International (1905-31).
Although Granville-Smith spent his wanderjahre in Europe, where he more firmly integrated the impressionistic aesthetic into his art, some of these works simply represent well-executed examples of high-keyed Tonalism. In works dating circa 1910, Granville-Smith demonstrated a near-analytical observation of nature, as well as a mastery of technique. In these paintings, the artist appears to be turning from illustration to pure easel painting, toward a subjective lyricism comparable to that of John H. Twachtman. Throughout his work, Granville-Smith incorporated the methods of plein-air study. In so doing, he demonstrated one of the fundamental pursuits of impressionism: a keen sense of natural light and atmospheric changes. He was a member of the National Academy and continually active in the New York area art community. His death on 7 December 1938 followed that of Glackens only by several months.
Pisano, Ronald G., The Long Island Landscape 1865-1914. The Halcyon Years. Exh. cat. Southampton, NY: The Parrish Art Museum, 1981; Hirschl and Adler Galleries, The Arts of the American Renaissance. Exh. cat. New York: 1985, cat. no. 25; Larson, Judy, American Illustration 1890-1925: Romance, Adventure and suspense. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Glenbow Museum, 1986, cat. no. 68; Love, Richard H. And William H. Marshall, The Marshall Collection. Chicago: 1999, p. 84.