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collections > permanent collection > paintings >WALLACE HERNDON SMITH
Wallace Herndon Smith
(American, 1901-1990)
Tabac Shop, France, n.d., c. 1950s
Oil on canvas, 30” x 24”
Gift of the Bellwether Foundation; Courtesy of Harmon-Meek Gallery (96.043)


American and European sensibilities come together in the paintings of Wallace Herndon Smith, who tempered his Regionalist outlook with his admiration for the French modernists.   Tabac Shop, France is a product of one of the artist’s visits to that country, and recalls streetscapes painted by Manet or van Gogh.  Unlike typical American Scene painting, Tabac Shop is quieter in mood, and less replete with anecdotal detail.  Yet the solid application of paint and slight distortion of form and perspective are hallmarks of mid-twentieth-century American Realism.


Smith studied architecture at Princeton University and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  After several years of practice in his native city of St. Louis, the artist turned to oil painting in the late 1920s.  Among his teachers were Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League of New York, and printmaker Peggy Bacon.  Smith exhibited regularly throughout his career, and in 1985 was honored with a retrospective at the galleries of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.