A native of New York and the son of an engraver, James David Smillie earned his early reputation for his etching skills but later for watercolor landscapes. He began etching at age 8, learning from his father, James Smillie (1807-1885). At age 14, he did a set of plates illustrating John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost. He had a job as a bank note engraver, and then he and his father had a business, collaborating as engravers with a specialty of bank-notes. They also did the engravings for the 1857 Mexican Boundary Survey Report. James David Smillie helped organize the New York Etching Club, and he was the U.S. representative to supply examples of American etchers' work to the Painters-Etchers Society of London. Although he continued working with etching, drypoint, aquatint and lithography, in 1865, he began doing landscape painting and was especially interested in mountain scenery. Smillie traveled in California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Colorado in the Rocky Mountains, and in the eastern United States in the Catskills and Adirondacks. From these trips he did illustrations that were published in 1872 in the magazine Picturesque America. In 1881, Smillie got married, and the couple had two sons. By 1884, he was in France, and spent much time there doing prints of landscapes, figures, portraits and cityscapes. Between 1888 and 1896, he produced a set of drypoint floral still-life prints. James David Smillie founded the American Watercolor Society and served as president and treasurer. He also taught classes at the National Academy of Design in 1868 and from 1894 to 1903.
Banko pottery wares have been produced since the nineteenth century both for the domestic market and for export. Banko ware comes usually as teapots and has charming designs of a peculiar style. Some Banko pottery is unglazed while others can be very colorful and abundantly decorated with sculpture-like high reliefs in very imaginative shapes.
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The Teec Nos Pos style of Navajo weaving is a bold, exciting and elaborate design. Many believe this style developed from pictures of Persian rugs while others see no connection and believe that traders introduced this design to the Navajo People from designs on flour sacks. The name, which means "Cottonwoods in a Circle," comes from a settlement in the northeast corner of the Navajo Nation. Always surrounded by a wide border and filled with an exuberant variety of motifs, Teec Nos Pos style rugs are usually large, and therefore very expensive. An elaborate center is enhanced with stylized feathers and arrows. Steps and angular hooks extend from the points of diamonds and triangles, while zigags are abundant. The many, brightly colored yarns are used to create a visually stunning design in the Teec Nos Pos style.
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Van Soelen trained in art at the St. Paul Institute from 1908 to 1911, and then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, 1911-1915. The Pennsylvania Academy awarded Van Soelen a Cresson Traveling Scholarship which enabled him to tour and study in Europe in 1913 and 1914. Shortly after launching his art career back in the United States, Van Soelen headed west, seeking relief from tuberculosis. After spending time in Utah and Nevada, he settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1916. Working as a commercial illustrator, he also began to sell his fine art paintings. To acquaint himself with the people and landscapes of New Mexico, Van Soelen spent time in the small towns and ranches of the region. Early on, scenes of ranch life became his favorite subjects. Van Soelen married Virginia Carr in 1922 and the couple moved to Santa Fe before permanently settling in nearby Tesuque, New Mexico in 1926. Van Soelen's reputation grew rapidly throughout this time, but like other New Mexico's easel painters, most of his customers were in the East. In the 1930s he established a second studio in Cornwall, Connecticut to be closer to that market. Van Soelen painted in a detailed, realistic style with a slightly muted palette and strong draftsmanship. Though most famous for his ranch-life genre paintings, he also painted landscapes and formal portraits, and produced several popular lithographs on cowboy themes. In 1938 Van Soelen won a mural commission for the Post Office in Portales, New Mexico. He was a Fellow of the National Academy and exhibited in various juried exhibitions including the National Academy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Chicago Art Institute. In 1960 he was named Honorary Fellow in Fine Arts by the School of American Research.
A popular landscape painter, especially of golden toned landscapes that conveyed fall and winter seasons, Bruce Crane was strongly influenced by the French Barbizon school of painting and had a studio for many years in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He also painted on Long Island, the Catskills, and the Adirondacks. In 1882, he was in France at the colony at Grez-sur-Loring with Birge Harrison, Kenyon Cox, and Alexander Wyant, but he maintained a studio in New York City until he moved to Bronxville in 1914. He took early art lessons from Alexander Wyant in New York City and then studied in Europe. He became a member of the National Academy of Design, the American Water Color Society, the Salmagundi Club, the Society of American Artists, and the Grand Central Art Galleries. One of his great admirers was J. Francis Murphy with whom his work has often been compared. Source: David Michael Zellman, "Three Hundred Years of American Art" Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
Van Zandt, born in New Scotland, Albany County, New York in 1814, was a well-known painter of the horses of wealthy New Yorkers, including Leland Stanford. The Stanford Museum has a half dozen of T.K. Van Zandt's work in its collection. In 1859 he was awarded a silver medallion for "Best Animal Painting in Oil" by the New York State Agricultural Society. His son, William Garrett Van Zandt, was also known for his equine subjects. A second son, Bleecker (1855-1915) was a sculptor. Thomas Kirby Van Zandt died in 1886.