Xanthus Smith and Civil War Maritime Art

February 24, 2017 - August 26, 2017

The Civil War redefined the nation on multiple levels, including forever changing American art. Instead of the early 19th century scenes of untouched natural beauty, artists began recording the new technologies and realities of warfare. Xanthus Smith was a Philadelphia-based landscape artist of growing reputation when he enlisted in the Union Navy. Stationed in Port Royal, South Carolina, he used his talents to produce dozens of drawings and paintings of the ships that were a part of the Atlantic fleet. Of equal importance, however, are his sketches of camp life amidst the natural setting of the South Carolina coast.

“Xanthus Smith and Civil War Maritime Art” features 47 of his stunning paintings and sketches, along with his paint palette and artists box. The exhibit reveals the talents of this artist who spent his entire Civil War service in South Carolina, and examines how he turned those experiences into a successful career as a painter of war time naval battles. Looking at these works one can see his former artistic focus on landscapes along with his keen eye for the drama of military life, both in battle and camp, which earned him a national reputation as one of the foremost American military painters of the 19th century. This exhibit features 36 works of art on loan from the Southern Maritime Collection in Charleston. Also on display are works from the Columbia Museum of Art, Morris Museum of Art, Columbus Museum, and Chester County Historical Society. The exhibit is on display February 24 through August 26, 2017.