Early 20th-Century Alice Ravenel Huger Smith Watercolor

Value (2013) | $85,000 Retail

This is a watercolor that I inherited from my mother, who was raised in Charleston. It's by Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. And she was a good friend of the family's. We have a number of these paintings, but this one's my favorite.

And do you know who the figure is in the painting?

My mother always said that was "Da." Now, whether it was her da or just a da, I don't know. Da was the name that the children in Charleston called their nurses. Their black nurses were referred to as a "da." That's Da fishing in the swamp.

Alice Ravenel Smith was born in 1876, and she did take a few classes in painting and drawing at the Carolina Art Association, but she was really pretty much an untrained artist.


And she started out-- her earliest works were things like dance programs and place cards, and from that she graduated into painting street vendors. And then for a while, she painted copies of ancestor portraits, of which there were many in Charleston. But she really decided that what she wanted to do was paint landscapes. And in 1906, she started painting in watercolor, and by 1924, that was the main medium that she used. Okay. Her style of painting is often described as atmospheric and mysterious. She loved painting the low country of South Carolina, and she would go out in nature and make sketches and then she would go back and create the finished painting from memory. So I think that really added to the mystery and the sort of magical quality that you see in her painting. I think this is a wonderful work. It's very unusual to see a figure in her landscape. It's just a terrific example. I think if this were in a retail gallery, the asking price might be $85,000.

Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh! (laughing)

It is a wonderful painting.

Oh, my gosh, thank you. I am absolutely floored. Oh, my gosh, thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2013)
$85,000 Retail
Richmond, VA (August 17, 2013)

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