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Edward Gregory Smith

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Edward Gregory Smith
Lyme Art Colony
American, (May 2, 1880–November 7, 1961) In Lyme: 1910-1961
Gregory Smith (he always called himself that, though he signed some paintings with his full name) moved to Old Lyme from his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1910, at the encouragement of his friend Will Howe Foote. Smith, who was thirty at the time, had studied a couple of years at the Chicago Art Institute and was anxious to meet the many well-known artists staying in Old Lyme.

Gregory Smith admired a number of the artists associated with the colony, particularly Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf. He respected Metcalf’s ability to record the essence of the New England countryside – from panoramic views to intimate woodland scenes. Metcalf’s interest in painting both moonlight scenes and winter landscapes influenced Smith to make these his specialty. Hassam’s imprint on Smith is illustrated in Smith’s painting of the Bow Bridge. Both painters utilized strong apostrophe-like brushwork and high-key colors to record a sense of veiled luminosity.

When Smith and his wife Annie first came to Old Lyme, they rented the Brick Store, a local landmark that is near the present site of the Lyme Art Association. They frequently had meals at Miss Florence Griswold’s house and Gregory Smith sometimes boarded there with other colony members for several months at a time when Mrs. Smith took the children to Florida. Admired for his sharp wit, Smith was often in on the antics and practical jokes the artists played on one another.

In 1916 the Smiths built a house and studio on Sill Lane in Old Lyme, where they lived for the rest of their lives. A beautiful arbor connected the studio to the house. Tragically, afire in 1925 totally destroyed the studio and most of the work the artist had accumulated to that time.

Although Smith was not so commercially successful as some of the Old Lyme group, the artists held him in high regard as a painter. Several of the most prestigious exhibition prizes of the Lyme Art Association were awarded him, including the W. S. Eaton Purchase Prize in 1922, the Woodhull Adams Memorial Prize in 1927, and the Goodman Prize in 1931 and 1936. In 1977 a small retrospective of Smith’s work was shown at the Lyme Historical Society.

Smith served as president of the Lyme Art Association for more than twenty years, from 1934-58. Later he managed the association’s gallery and enjoyed a bit of local fame with his "Janitor" series of newspaper articles about the activities of the association. Smith also had an absorbing interest in politics and was involved for years in Republican activities in Old Lyme. He was a charter member of the Old Lyme Volunteer Fire Department, organized in 1923.

Further reading:
Notes on the Florence Griswold House by Gregory Smith. Lyme Art Association Papers. Lyme Historical Society Archives.
Paintings by Gregory Smith. Exh. cat., Lyme Historical Society, 1978.

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