Artist profile: D. C. Smyth – Other subjects

Every month, I profile an artist who inspires my own art,
in several segments.

My last post about Dorothy Carleton Smyth is just a small, miscellaneous collection of artworks I like (and that I could get pictures of!). Three were done as illustrations for works by famous English nationalist author Rudyard Kipling.

I couldn’t find a name or date for this first image, but it’s obviously for a Kipling work. I mean, just look at it – a blonde, blue-eyed kid with a British flag and a dog.

unknown title, super British
unknown title, super British

Next is a really cool object. It’s called a quaich, which is a type of shallow Scottish bowl with two handles. Smyth designed it in 1904, the metal-smithing was executed by William Armstrong Davidson, and Margaret de Courcy Lewthwaite did the enameling; all Scottish artists. It’s a larger quaich than usual (it holds nearly 40 oz) and it’s most likely not meant to be functional. As far as I can tell, it was sold by the Lyon & Turnbull auction house in 2012 for £18,750 ($31,303!).
Quaich (1904)
Quaich (1904)

This one is my favorite of Smyth’s miscellaneous paintings. It’s a watercolor called Just Beyond the Moonlit Lake. It was sold at auction by McTears in 2012 for $819.
Just Beyond the Moonlit Lake (unknown date)
Just Beyond the Moonlit Lake (unknown date)

It fuses elements of Japanese ukiyo-e prints with Classical art and even a little bit of Pre-Raphaelite style. I like the motion of her hair and cloth. Now that I look at it closely, I think the fairy might be Frost, and she’s cloaking the flowers in ice, looking back at the rising sun, which will eventually melt all her work.

Below is another vellucent book (like the one from last week she made for Cedric Chivers’s company) for Helen Milman’s In the Garden of Peace. I don’t know what the illustrations represent, but I like them. I think it would be amazing to own a book with a hand-painted cover. This book sold in an auction from Bonhams in 2012 for £2,750 ($4,586).

Full cover for In the Garden of Peace (1896)
Full cover for In the Garden of Peace (1896)

The last two images are from an unbound collection of twenty-six watercolors (with ink). Each painting illustrates a scene from a story by Rudyard Kipling. I believe the collection was sold from David Brass Rare Books, but I can’t say when or for how much. The paintings may have been preliminary designs for vellucent books. I just love the hand-lettering and decorative framing.

The First Jungle Book (1920)
The First Jungle Book (1920)

The caption reads, “I was among the ploughed lands. I am ready, see! Mowgli held up the fire pot.” That panther is pretty sweet and the smoke rises up nicely.
Plain Tales from the Hills (1920)
Plain Tales from the Hills (1920)

The quote says, “In his withers banged and bumped the kettle drums draped in crape and on his back, very stiff and soldierly, sat a bareheaded skeleton.” I like this one because of the heavy black outline around the skeleton and the horse, and the drama of the horse’s expression. The whole picture is pretty dramatic, I daresay – the stark white of the horse and skeleton against dark blue storm clouds, the upraised bone arm, the implied motion. Very nice.

So, that is it for my Dorothy Carleton Smyth series. There is very little information available about her, even when her work was selling well at auction (during the past two years). I sincerely hope that my posts spark further research – especially for people who have access to Scottish records. Exactly how did Smyth die? When and where did she teach? What about her sister Olive, who was also an artist? Please leave comments on my posts if you come across anything you think could be useful. I’d really like to shine a spotlight on this talented artist.

Other parts in the Dorothy Carleton Smyth artist profile series
Antiques Roadshow
Historical subjects


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s