September 16, 2017 09:00 AM EDT Asheville, North Carolina


444

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith

(Charleston, South Carolina, 1876-1958)

Four North Carolina Mountain Views, circa 1949-1952: Hanging Rock and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, two inscribed by the artist verso "Hanging Rock" and "Thunder Hill", one signed "Alice R. H. Smith", watercolor on paper laid on board, 7 x 10 in., 10 x 14-1/2 in. (2), 9-7/8 x 14 in.; two framed

Notes: Comments from Dwight McInvaill, author, scholar and close friend of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith:

“As a leading artist of the early twentieth century’s Charleston Renaissance, the watercolorist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876-1958) had for decades created luminescent landscapes of South Carolina’s coastal region, the Lowcountry. Alice’s creative output regrettably ceased from 1941 to 1943 due to family illnesses and the Second World War’s onset. But there would be a wartime renewal thanks to a young couple, Harry and Talulah McInvaill. Both were poets needful of a place to stay in the crowded port city, and Alice and her sister Caroline befriended them. With the McInvaills, Alice felt a special creative connection, and Harry soon persuaded her to paint again. When Harry, as a naval officer, left to fight in the Pacific, Alice kept his

spirits up by sending him long letters, including many on art. She also mailed him beautiful little watercolors as reminders of the Home Front. From Alice, Talulah learned to paint. And when they were separated, too, by Talulah’s first pregnancy, Alice critiqued postal packets of the young lady’s watercolors through additional long letters, since gasoline for road trips was very scarce. Altogether, over 400 missives were written by Alice to this young couple. Of course, hundreds of photographs were taken, too. For 15 years, until Alice’s death, the close connection continued. With Harry, Alice operated the Pink House Gallery on Chalmers Street, where together they featured the works of the Charleston Renaissance in its last decades. For Harry, she wrote her Reminiscences in 1950. She also covered the McInvaill family’s home with watercolors as remembrances of shared times. And when Alice died, she left the proceeds from the sales of her watercolors across the years to the McInvaills, specifically for the college educations of their four children, Eve, Alice, Sarah, and Dwight. These offspring owe to Alice deep gratitude not only for very fine schooling but also for growing up in a household filled with walls and walls and walls of beauty created specially by her.

 

"I think that Alice likely painted these watercolors sometime from the mid-to-late summer 1949 to the year 1952. Here's why: My father went back into the navy in 1949, and my mother and my sisters, Eve and Alice, left soon thereafter in June 1949 for his home base in Norfolk, VA.
While Alice continued to keep my father's place, the Pink House, open with the help of Louis Lawson, both she and her sister Caroline may have been somewhat lonely without our family nearby in Charleston. In any case, according to a delightful tale that my father used to tell, Alice and Carolina were driven by their chauffeur Manny to the mountains.
Manny was a pure professional. He took his work and the safety of the sisters very seriously. He also always dressed to a high standard while driving with a cap on his head, a tie around his neck, and a jacket on his torso. But it was hot even in the hills that summer day, and the sisters became increasingly concerned about Manny. They bought him some apple cider to cool him off -- my father placed the acquisition of this beverage squarely on their doing -- and unfortunately, the effect was that Manny began to drive erratically among the peaks.  So the sisters thought perhaps he was suffering a heat malady, and they gave him even more cider, bottle by bottle, again and again. But his driving did not improve. In fact, it worsened even more. Finally they reached lower ground and managed at some point to make it home without a scratch.  Later, it was ascertained that the sisters had purchased HARD cider to give to Manny.

My father absolutely loved to tell this story.

As for the year 1952, in the book Alice Ravenel Huger Smith of Charleston, South Carolina:  An Appreciation on the Occasion of the Eightieth Birthday from Her Friends, Charleston, SC, 1956, page 57."

 

 

Provenance:Private Collection

Condition:

slight toning and foxing, good color, signed work with minor losses of pigment at edges; two frames with abrasions

Estimate: $20,000 - $25,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$21,600
09/16/2017

 

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