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Joseph Lindon Smith papers, 1647-1965, bulk 1873-1965

Joseph Lindon Smith papers, 1647-1965, bulk 1873-1965

Smith, Joseph Lindon, 1863-1950

Muralist, Sculptor, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 8.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Boston and New Hampshire painter Joseph Lindon Smith date from 1647-1965, with the bulk of papers dating from 1873-1965, and measure 8.8 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials; letters from family members, artists, museums, and art patrons; seven diaries by Smith and two by his wife Corinna, personal business records, notes and writings, files concerning charitable theatrical productions, one sketchbook and other art work, a scrapbook, printed material, photographs, and audio recordings of interviews.

Scattered biographical material consists of family history documents for the Smith and Putnam families, a Jenkes family tree, and passports for Joseph Lindon Smith and his family.

Over three linear feet of letters are from family members, artists including Cecilia Beaux, Frank Benson, George DeForest Brush, and Denman Ross, museum staff concerned with work in Egypt, and art patrons including Isabella Stewart Gardner, and individuals involved with Smith's charitable pageants. There are scattered letters from Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Henry James, Charles G. Loring, Paul Manship, General John J. Pershing, John Singer Sargent, and Abbott Handerson Thayer. Among the subjects discussed are student life at the Académie Julian, the Smiths' travels, and individuals known by Smith.

Seven diaries written by Joseph Lindon Smith document his travels in Egypt, Persia, Europe, and New Mexico. Two diaries were written by Corinna Smith during her travels to Beiram and Egypt.

Personal business records business records include contracts, price lists, lists of securities, and miscellaneous receipts of the Smith and Putnam families, Joseph Lindon Smith, Corinna Smith, and their daughter Lois Smith.

Notes include engagement calendars, notebooks, lists of art work, lecture notes, minutes of meetings, notes on family history and on travel, and an autograph by Kit Carson. Writings include miscellaneous typescripts by the Smiths and others concerning travel, work in Egypt and elsewhere, and anecdotes about various friends and acquaintances. There are also three drafts of "Egypt - My Winter Home."

Theatrical production files concern plays, pageants, and masques written and/or produced by the Smiths. Many of the performances were benefits, dedication or anniversary celebrations, such as a pageant given at Fenway Court in honor of Isabella Stewart Gardner, a pageant at the dedication of a memorial to Abbott Handerson Thayer, and the centenary celebration of the founding of Amherst, Mass.

Art work includes a sketchbook with extensive notes, a painting, drawings by Joseph Lindon Smith, and prints by other artists.

A scrapbook contains clippings and an exhibition catalog from the St. Botolph Club. Additional printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, press releases, programs, booklets, brochures, and books by others.

Photographs are of Smith, his family, friends including classmates from the Académie Julian, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Abbott Handerson Thayer, exhibition installations, military camp sites from World War I, travel scenes, and art work by Smith.

Audio recordings consist of four 33 1/3 phonograph recordings of interviews for WKNE Radio, Keene, N.H., with Corinna Smith and Barry Faulkner talking about Smith, and Smith discussing his book, "Tombs, Temples, and Ancient Art."

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950) is a painter and lecturer, Dublin, N.H.


Donated 1977-1978 by the Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Hale. Mrs. Hale is a granddaughter of the Smiths.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Joseph Lindon Smith Papers,
bulk 1873-1965
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950) of Boston, Massachusetts and Dublin, New Hampshire, was a painter primarily known for his ability to meticulously depict the murals and tomb sculpture of Egypt and other ancient cultures.
Joseph Lindon Smith was born on October 11, 1863 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the son of wholesale lumberman Henry Francis Smith and Emma Greenleaf Smith, a cousin of John Greenleaf Whittier.
From 1880 to 1882, Smith studied drawing and painting at the Art School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts under Frederic Crowninshield and Otto Grundman. Accompanied by his friend, Frank Benson, he attended the Académie Julian and studied under William Bouguereau, Gustave Boulanger, and Jules Lefebvre from 1883 to 1885.
Upon his return to Boston, Smith established a studio as a portrait and landscape painter, attracting the attention of Denman Ross, a professor of History of Fine Arts at Harvard University. In the early 1890s Smith and Ross began to travel extensively and Smith became interested in ancient civilizations of Mexico, China, and Southeast Asia. In 1892, during a trip to Italy, Smith befriended Isabella Stewart Gardner, for whom he copied famous paintings, and occasionally acted as agent in purchasing art work.
Making his first trip to Egypt in 1898, Smith became enthralled with the art work of the ancient civilization and devoted himself to painting copies of the tomb sculptures and murals for educational uses in museums and other public institutions. In 1899, he married Corinna Haven Putnam and the couple spent much of their married life traveling between the United States and the Middle East, especially Egypt. From 1910 to 1939, Smith was a member of the Joint Expedition of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University directed by Dr. George A. Reisner.
For fifty years, Smith was also sought out as a writer and producer of plays and theatrical pageants, fetes, and masques primarily staged for various charitable fund-raising events.
Joseph Lindon Smith died on October 18, 1950 in Dublin, New Hampshire.
The collection is arranged as 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1711-1948 (Box 1, 10; 5 folders)
Series 2: Letters, 1768-1965 (Box 1-4, OV 11; 3.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Diaries, 1904-1949 (Box 4; 11 folders)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1647-1959 (Box 4, 10; 11 folders)
Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1783-1963 (Box 4-6; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 6: Theatrical Production Files, 1897-1950 (Box 6-7, 10; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 7: Art Works, 1932-1943 (Box 8, 10; 8 folders)
Series 8: Scrapbook, 1888-1901 (Box 8; 1 folder)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1723-1963 (Box 8, OV 11; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 10: Photographs, 1884-1956 (Box 8-10; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 11: Audio Recordings, 1956 (Box 9-10; 2 folders)
All material is arranged chronologically except for the writings by others and travel photographs that are arranged alphabetically.
Donated 1977-1978 by the Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Hale. Mrs. Hale is a granddaughter of the Smiths.
Processing Information
The papers were arranged by Jean Fitzgerald in 1996, and a finding aid prepared in 2010. Eden Orelove encoded the Index of Correspondents in 2011.

Additional Forms Available

The collection is available on 35 mm microfilm reels 5114-5124 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid may not reflect the exact order of the collection on microfilm.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Joseph Lindon Smith papers, 1647-1965, bulk 1873-1965. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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