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He was one of the artists encouraged with free passes by the Canadian Pacific Railway to travel and paint in Western Canada. The railway knew that the scenery painted on those trips would encourage tourism and especially train travel. Bell-Smith came to B.C. shortly after the track was completed, and returned to paint a number of times in the Rockies and the Selkirk Mountains and on the coast.
He was one of the earliest artists to exhibit in Vancouver, and in 1890 had one painting in the First Annual Exhibition of the Vancouver Art Association.
Because he travelled at such an early date in British Columbia, and was a senior and highly skilled artist at the time, his paintings are now valuable historical records of the pioneer days in the province, typically painted in the accurate but somewhat atmospheric traditional English landscape style of the nineteenth century. He died in Toronto in 1923.
|1890 October 6 - 11||V.A.A. 1st Annual Exhibition||Canyon, Fraser River|
|1909 June 19 - July 17||Studio Club Exhibition of Pictures||Beach, Coast of Maine|
|Study of Clouds|
|1909 Oct. - Nov.||Studio Club Autumn Exhibition||The Heart of the Empire|
|(also "many Old Country views")|
|1909 November||BCSFA Second Exhibition||On the Bow River, Banff|
|1928 Sept. 3 - 8||ProvExh 8th Annual Salon||A Tune of Long Ago|
|1932 May - July||VAG All Canadian Exhibition||Canadian Forest Scene|
|1946 July 2 - 28||VAG Jubilee Exhibition||Hell's Gate Canyon|
IMPRESSIONS OF AN AGE (refer to VCM69)
ARTISTS OVERLAND (refer to BAG80)
THE FINE ARTS IN VANCOUVER, 1886 - 1930 (refer to THOM)
EARLY PAINTERS AND ENGRAVERS IN CANADA
(refer to H70)
Includes extensive references to Bell-Smith.
CREATIVE CANADA - VOLUME TWO, by University of Toronto Press
1972; ISBN 0-8020-3285-0
Includes one full column of concise information about Bell-Smith
THE MOUNTAINS AND THE SKY by Lorne E. Render
1974, Glenbow-Alberta Institute; published by McClelland and Stewart West
ISBN 0-7712-1001-2; 224 pages, illustrated throughout in colour and b&w
Includes biographical information on Bell-Smith and 3 of his paintings illustrated
ROYAL CANADIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS -
EXHIBITIONS & MEMBERS 1880 - 1979 (refer to RCA81)
Extensive five page exhibition listings for Bell-Smith.
ARTISTS IN CANADA 1982 - UNION LIST OF ARTISTS' FILES (refer to AIC82)
MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS -
SPRING EXHIBITIONS 1880 - 1970 (refer to MM88)
A DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN ARTISTS (refer to M)
BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA
(refer to BIAC03)
35 references cited for Bell-Smith.
THE BOW - LIVING WITH A RIVER, edited by Gerald T. Conaty
Includes essays by G.T. Conaty, Daryl Betenia, Catharine Mastin
2004; ISBN 1-55263-634-8; Glenbow Museum, published by Key Porter Books Ltd.
160 pages, hardcover; extensively illustrated with artwork and historical photographs
Includes essays, select artist biographies, art and general bibliographies, index
Artwork by western artists includes Bell-Smith
TAMING THE FRONTIER: ART & WOMEN IN THE CANADIAN WEST 1880 - 1920
July 2005; by Virgina G. Berry, copyright Margaret Berry and Julie Berry Melynk.
188 pages softcover; illustrated, footnotes, bibliography, index
Centered on Winnipeg, but has early references to Bell-Smith.
VISTAS: ARTISTS ON THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY (refer to GLEN09)
ART INSPIRED BY THE CANADIAN ROCKIES, PURCELL
MOUNTAINS AND SELKIRK MOUNTAINS 1809-2012 (refer to TOWN12)
"The subject of the picture by F.M. Bell-Smith,
"The Heart of London," is from another world, and those who know London
can see the truch embodied here. The brush of the artist has caught the
softness which time has laid over the stones, the atmosphere which the
breath of a mighty city has robbed of its brilliance. Life is seen here
in many phases. It is London, essentially London."
From "The City Art Gallery", by G.H. Lardner
Museum and Art Notes, Vol. IV, No. 1. March 1929
"In 1867, John Bell-Smith, an English portrait
painter, and his son F.M. Bell-Smith arrived in Montreal, where they settled
for a short time before moving to Hamilton and later to Toronto. J. Bell-Smith
was sixty-six years of age when he arrived in Canada and his son was twenty-one.
This young man had studied painting in both London and Paris before emigrating
to Canada, and was a conspicuous and picturesque figure in Canadian art circles
for fifty-six years. His best work was undoubtedly his Rocky Mountain sketches,
although he painted a number of street scenes with figures, particularly of
London, and the haunts of Dickens, subjects which had a strong attraction for him."
From Canadian Landscape Painters, Albert H. Robson; page 54
The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1932
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