The Thomas Smith collection includes a disbound sketchbook of eighteen watercolors and six drawings depicting scenes in the northeastern United States and Canada made between 1820-1826 as well as three letters written by Smith between 1820-1822.
The Thomas Smith collection includes a disbound sketchbook of eighteen watercolors and six drawings depicting scenes in the northeastern United States and Canada made approximately between 1820-1826 as well as three letters written by Smith between 1820-1822.
The Visual Materials series contains eighteen watercolors and six drawings from a disbound sketchbook that depict scenes in the Eastern United States and Canada. While the watercolors and drawings themselves contain no exact information on their precise dates of creation, there is one unfinished pencil sketch of Fort Niagara that shows architectural features that were only in place from 1818 to 1823. Additionally, two pages contain watermarks in the paper that read "Turkey Mills J. Whatman 1818," while an inscription on the inside of the detached front cover also reads: "Thomas Smith. American Sketches 1820 to 1826." Smith is known to have made one trip to New York in the late spring and summer of 1820 and also returned from another trip there in the fall of 1821. Although presumably an amateur artist, Smith showed an uncanny eye for accurate detail, a keen ability to depict the scale of landscapes, and a vivid sense of color and light.
The following represents a complete list of illustrations present in the collection. Items lacking titles have been provided titles in brackets:
- 1) [Unidentified building] (fragment on oval sheet; pen and ink)
- 2) [Portrait of unidentified man] (fragment; pencil)
- 3) Point - Entrance of Chaudiere (pen and ink)
- 4) Palmetto trees East side Sullivan's Isld. South Carol,,a
- 5) Wappoo, Cooper River, S. Carolina
- 6) [Niagara Falls]
- 7) River Delaware. Fort Gaines to the left, to the right Fort Mifflin
- 8) [Presumed to be Delaware River]
- 9) Unfinished
- 10) [Niagara from the American side]
- 11) [Estuary with a Rowing Boat]
- 12) [The Mouth of the Niagara River at Fort George, Ontario] (pencil)
- 13) [Quay on an Estuary]
- 14) [Thousand Islands, Ganaoque (near Kingston), Ontario]
- 15) Cohos Falls, Mohawk River
- 16) [Niagara Gorge from Goat Island]
- 17) [Hudson River landscape]
- 18) Entrance of the Patapsco River into Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore Maryland
- 19) New York Harbor
- 20) [Queenston Heights - looking down the Niagara River towards Lake Ontario]
- 21) [New York Harbor]
- 22) [Town on an Estuary] (pencil)
- 23) [Niagara Falls from below]
- 24) [Landscape with a Waterfall] (pencil)
The Correspondence series contains three letters written by Thomas Smith to family members. The first letter, dated April 1820, is addressed to Smith's sister Eliza Elizabeth "Betsey" Smith (1802-1876) and bemoans her general lack of communication before discussing differences between American and English women, mentioning acquaintances including a "Mr. Lucas" and a "Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell", and describing events related to the wedding of a "considerable" rice planter and "Miss Lucas...now Mrs. Cordes" that took place in Charleston, South Carolina in March. This was likely the wedding of James Jameison Cordes (1798-1867) and Mary Lucas (1802-1873). Smith also makes reference to a bridesmaid named "Miss McLeod...a lady of large fortune worth as these things are estimated in S Carola: 300 negroes" while stating that "negro servants" accompanied the wedding party on horseback on their way to Middleburgh plantation. The second letter, also dated April 1820, is addressed to Smith's brother Joseph Smith VI (1800-1876) and contains a description of deer hunting conducted in the "American mode" in which several concealed hunting stands were occupied "100 to 150 yards apart" before "the negroes are sent with the hounds to drive the swamps or ponds where the deer generally conceal themselves." Smith elaborates on an unsuccessful hunting trip led by a planter named "Mr. Bryan" in which the party consisted of "Mr. Bryan, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Cordes, Mr. Hume & myself, with 2 negro slaves, all on horseback" during which Smith and Mr. Hume managed to become briefly lost in the woods. Also included are mentions of various wildlife encountered in the countryside, references to regional flora Smith intends to procure seeds of, and a description of typical South Carolinian cuisine had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during different times of year. The third letter, dated February-March 1822 and partially written from aboard the steamship Robert Fulton while in the Gulf of Mexico, is addressed to Betsey (now "Mrs. Alfred H.") at "Messr: Jos. Hardcastle & Sons London." Betsey married Alfred Hardcastle (1791-1842) in 1821. This letter describes Smith's return to Charleston in Novemeber of 1821 following a trip to New York, spending the Christmas holiday period at Mr. Lucas's plantation, a four-day excursion in Havana, Cuba, made during the present voyage while en route from New Orleans to Charleston, and avoiding a close encounter with a "suspicious looking Schooner" off the Cape of Florida.