Gladys Nelson Smith


Smith was born near Chelsea, Kan., and died in Kensington, Md. She was a painter of children, portraits and landscapes. She studied with W.A. Griffith at the University of Kansas, where she developed her signature impressionist style of bright colors and broad brushwork.

Smith moved to Washington, D.C., in 1924 and spent most of her career in the Washington area. From 1924–1930 she attended classes at the Corcoran. Her career was hampered not only by the Ashcan school, but also by the Abstractionists who dominated the American art scene after the Armory Show of 1913. Smith maintained her traditional style and always felt that she was under appreciated. She believed that her lack of recognition was due to the growing influence of Modernism on American art. She put her brushes away in 1953 because of this lack of recognition and only painted for her own satisfaction, never returning to the public stage again.

Gladys Smith is in the collection of the Butler Institute of American Art, Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art, Spencer Museum of Art, Morris Museum of Art and The Johnson Collection. She had a major retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery in 1980.

Smith was a member of the Society of the Washington Arts and the Art League of Washington.

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