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Houghton Cranford Smith papers, 1890-1991

More Information

Eden Orelove
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter Houghton Cranford Smith measure 2.2 linear feet and date from 1890-1991. They consist of eight scrapbooks compiled by his widow containing correspondence with family and friends, biographical materials, sketches, school work, extensive clippings, exhibition catalogs, travel documents and numerous photographs of family and friends.
Biographical materials include photographs of Smith, of his artwork and of friends and family in Provincetown and New Mexico, school documents from the Foebel Academy, the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the Art Students' League, autographed menus, correspondence, including postcards and letters to family and friends sent from Bermuda and Jamaica, customs declarations, exhibition catalogs, newspaper clippings, a passport to Chile, newsletters, and Smith's teaching contract from the University of Kansas. Additionally, there are significant photographs and letters documenting Smith's art studies with E. Ambrose Webster at the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The collection also includes Smith's correspondence from France and South America. A significant portion of the collection includes papers from his time in France from 1913-1914, where he studied at the Parisian art school Academie Julian. These include a log from a tandem bicycle trip with classmate Harold P. Browne, an invitation to the Bal Randolphe, a Browne Art Class brochure and a narrative entitled "A Party of Fugitives from France," which describes Smith's forced fleeing from France after the French mobilization in 1914. There are also papers describing his South American travels which include notes and correspondence about Argentina, Uruguay and his time in Chile, which spans five years.
Materials documenting Smith's return to France and studies at the Academie Ozenfant from 1926 to 1933 include Smith's passport, ship passenger lists and other travel documents, correspondence with family, French identification letters, exhibition catalogs, newspaper clippings and his Academie Ozenfant list of classes and student card. Of particular note are correspondence from and a picture of Sir Walter Kitchener, governor of Bermuda, and letters from wife Elena Peralta to her parents-in-law. Topics covered in the correspondence of this scrapbook include sons Houghton Jr. and Gerrit and the birth of daughter Florence, financial difficulties, art teachers Amadee Ozenfant and Andree L'hote and the family's travels to Bermuda, New Mexico and New York City.
Materials from later in Smith's life include correspondence from Smith to second wife Laura Gilbert Williams, exhibition catalogs and registers, photographs of artwork, newspaper clippings of reviews received for Smith's exhibited paintings and congratulatory letters from family and friends on Smith's successful exhibits and feature article in The American Artist. Additionally, there is significant correspondence with the Passedoit Gallery, Homer Saint-Gaudens of the Carnegie Institute regarding the exhibition and purchase of Smith's artwork and Smith's gifted painting to the Butler Institute of American Art. Additionally, there are several biographical newspaper articles and a biographical sketch written by his wife Laura after his death.
Of note is the artist's original handwritten notes and final published version of his reminiscence "The Provincetown I Remember," notes about painting with various colors and color charts, related assignments from Smith's Color Theory Class, a signed copy of the book Color by E. Ambrose Webster, Smith's former art teacher, pencil sketches, a class notebook about lettering and an address book.
Florence Cranford Smith Shepard donated her father's papers in 1993-1994.
Funding for a portion of the processing was provided by the Laura Cranford Smith Art Trust.
Processing Information
The donor Florence Cranford Smith, assisted by AAA staff Arleen Pancza-Graham, organized and arranged most of the collection into eight scrapbooks. The donor also provided notations and detailed item lists for the contents of each scrapbook. The collection was microfilmed shortly after receipt on reels 5029-5030. The papers were further arranged and a finding aid created by Eden Orelove in September, 2011.