John Christopher Smith Biography

Born in Ireland on May 24, 1891.  Smith arrived in the U.S. about 1903.  Following service in the U.S. Armed Forces in WWI, he studied at the Art Students League in New York under Robert Henri.  After a brief time in Chicago, he moved to Los Angeles in 1920.  By 1926 he was exhibiting regularly at the Wilshire Galleries and the Pasadena Art Institute.  Smith was a close friend of artist Franz Bischoff with whom he sketched and co-exhibited.  Smith’s reputation was enhanced by association with this prestigious painter.  The two artists painted together in Zion National Park in 1928 as well as in Cambria and San Pedro.  During 1929 Bischoff died, the stock market crashed, the Wilshire Galleries closed, and survival became difficult for Smith.  He had to earn his living as an interior decorator while ill with tuberculosis.  He died in Los Angeles on June 12, 1943.  His paintings are characterized by a clear, bright palette and bold, heavy stokes.  As well as landscapes, his matter often included people in various activities such as fishermen, sun bathers, industrial scenes, etc.  He also painted a few Indian portraits following a sketching trip to Arizona and New Mexico.  In his portraits one can see the influence of Henri.