JOHN CHRISTOPHER SMITH (1891-1943)
John Christopher Smith (1891-1943) (Eagle Rock)
Painted in Cambria alongside Franz Bischoff in the mid 1920s.
“Painter. Born in Ireland in 1891. Smith arrived in the U. S. about 1903. Following service in the U. S. Armed Forces during WWI, he studied art in NYC with Robert Henri. After a brief time in Chicago, he moved to Los Angeles in 1920. By 1926 he was exhibiting regularly at the Wilshire Galleries and the Pasadena Art Institute. Smith was a close friend of artist Franz Bischoff with whom he sketched and co-exhibited until Bischoff’s death in 1929.
After the stock market crash in 1929 and the closing of the Wilshire Galleries, he earned his living as an interior decorator. Smith was a resident of Eagle Rock, Ca. in 1932 and died of tuberculosis in LA. His paintings are characterized by a clear, bright palette and bold, heavy brush strokes. As well as landscapes, his subject matter often included people in various activities such as fishermen, sun bathers, industrial scenes, etc. He also painted a few Indian portraits from a sketching trip in Arizona and New Mexico.”
The article adds that Smith’s family moved to England when he was four and that the family was very poor, having only minimal food to eat. “After seven years in England, Smith’s mother brought him to the U. S. where she had made two visits and been impressed by the country. They remained in the New York area for three years, and Smith took his first art study at the Art Students League under Robert Henri. In 1906 Mother and son came by boat via the Panama Canal to San Francisco, arriving just after the earthquake.
Between then and 1921 when he moved to Eagle Rock, he traveled into practically every state in the union. In Los Angeles his studio was in a building that formerly stood on the site now occupied by the Public Library. There he met his future wife, who was employed by the bacteriology department of the LA health department that occupied one of the floors,” per J. C. Smith, Eagle Rock Sentinel, Aug. 8, 1930, p. 11, col. 5.
Source: Nancy Dustin Wall Moure, CAMBRIA (including HARMONY and SAN SIMEON) ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY BEFORE 1960 (Publications in [Southern] California Art, vol. 13, no. 2), Los Angeles: Dustin Publications, 2016