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2024 Winter Fine Art, Antiques & Jewelry (Day 1)

Sat, Jan 27, 2024 09:00AM EST
Lot 539

Xanthus Smith O/B Painting, Brig, Outward Bound, Hampton Roads VA 1865

Estimate: $8,000 - $9,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $200
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

Xanthus Russell Smith (Pennsylvania, 1839-1929) oil on board post-Civil War military painting depicting a large sailing vessel or brig embarking out of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Two men row a small boat through the foreground and other vessels are visible in the distance. Signed and dated "Xanthus Smith / 1865," lower right. Additionally signed and dated en verso and inscribed "Brig. Outward bound. / Hampton Roads Va. / Painted for Jos. S. Lovering Jr. Esq." Housed in a period gilt wood and composition frame with foliate corners and nameplate. Panel: 9" H x 13" W. Frame: 16 1/4" H x 20 1/4" W. Note: Xanthus Smith records this painting and states that "fat oily turpentine [was] used as a medium." The original cost was $25. Literature: Catalog number 30 in Harold Holzer and Frank J. Williams, "The Grand Review: Lincoln, Grant & The Civil War in Art and Artifacts," Orange, VA: Publisher's Press, 2014, pp. 48-49.

Biographical Note: Xanthus Russell Smith was born into a family of Philadelphia painters, including his parents and sister. He received initial drawing instruction from his parents until he advanced to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He enlisted in the Navy during the Civil War and while serving on naval ships, Smith studied the vessels and articulated their detail through meticulously drawn compositions. Smith illustrated naval activity on a small scale. He limited most of his compositions to less than fifteen inches on either side, developing his personal penchant for the "small, compact, and neat." After Smith's naval service ended and before his death in 1929, he continued to paint accurate and detailed depictions of sea-going vessels and battles they encountered. His compositions were well received both from patrons and by critics at numerous exhibitions including the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. (Sources: Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia; Michael Zellman, 300 Years of American Art).


Overall very good condition, with fine craquelure throughout and slight convexing to board. Stretcher marks to edges, especially left edge, have been retouched, along with scattered retouching throughout, largest area to sky behind brig, 2" x 1 1/2". Abrasion with loss, lower center, 1/2" L.

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Private South Carolina Collection; Brunk Auctions, May 20, 2017, lot 865; private Virginia Collection, the Charleston Renaissance Gallery, SC, #613072; Joseph S. Lovering.