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

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.