In the Manner of Xanthus R. Smith (American, 1839-1929) Shipping Off the Coast Oil on Canvas

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In the Manner of Xanthus R. Smith (American, 1839-1929)

Shipping Off the Coast

Oil on Canvas

Canvas Size: 30" x 50" ;  Framed Size: 39 1/2" x 59 1/2"

This is a magnificent Marine painting executed in the manner of Xanthus R. Smith (1838 to 1929), an American painter who specialized in the portrayal of naval battle scenes. In this work, the artist depicts a large and likely soon to be outmoded shipping vessel, accompanied by a trio of dark, steam powered tugboats. In the right middle ground of the painting, an unseen source of light illuminates another sailboat. Most significantly, then, the painters’ composition starkly juxtaposes old and new maritime technology. Indeed, the painter intimates that new technologies, as represented by the squat steamships, might be considered scientific marvels, but they are nevertheless not as grand and aesthetically pleasing as old ones like the wind driven shipping vessel. In addition to the boats and ships, the artist also masterfully conveyed the intense drama of a gray and cloudy sky and the choppiness and translucent quality of the ocean’s waves. A red light-house, Tucked away along the craggy shore, can also be seen in the painting.


Xanthus R. Smith was born on February 26, 1839 in Philadelphia. Between 1855 and 1858 he studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy and Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1862 Smith enter the U.S. Navy as a captain’s clerk. He later served as official and unofficial artist to Admiral S.F. Dupont on the U.S.S. Wabash in Charleston, South Carolina. Smyth was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1864. In 1868 he began creating paintings of the American Civil War. In 1877 he made his first trip to Maine, and executed a number of paintings along the state’s coast. Some of Smith’s most famous works include the battle of Mobile Bay 1864 housed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and… Action between the Alabama and Kearsage, 1864 at the Mariners Museum in Newport. Smyth died on April 2, 1929.