Houghton Cranford Smith

(American 1887-1983)

Amaryllis by Open Window 1929

Smith painted landscapes for more than seventy-five years. He was first inspired by Impressionism and then moved on to a precisionist style inspired by the French purists, such as Amedee Ozenfant. He visited Bermuda on at least three occasions-in 1911 with his Impressionist mentor, Charles Hawthorne from Provincetown Mass. and painted House above the Water and then in 1912 with Ambrose Webster with whom he explored their mutual interest in colour producing several vibrant works inspired by the luscious scenery. 

However, his most notable body of Bermudian work was made in 1929 after the dramatic change in his style. 

He came to the island on board the S.S. Fort Victoria on Wednesday January 16, 1929 with his wife, Elena and two children. He rented Cedarhurst on Wilkinson Avenue, Bailey’s Bay, which inspired many of his paintings from this visit. He used the waters of Harrington Sound and the  “Queen Anne” style of architecture as the backdrop of his works. 

When we first acquired the body of thirteen works in 1997 we were puzzled about the location of the photographs, Florence Smith Sheppard, his daughter, had given us with the family posed on the “Welcoming Arm” staircase. 

Chance encounter

Then we had the good fortune of offering a ride home to one of our volunteers during a torrential downpour. 

As we drove up the entrance to the house in Bailey’s Bay, we realized this was the very place that the Smiths had lived in 1929! Mystery solved!

ELISE OUTERBRIDGE if curator of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.  www.bermudamasterworks.com