George Henry Smillie was a significant figure among American Landscapists of the last century. His career began before the Civil War and ended after the First World War. Trained in the manner of the Hudson River School, Smillie eventually loosened his brushstroke and heightened his palette to produce works which paralleled the interests of the American Impressionists. But he never abandoned the firm compositional structure of his formative years.
He made trips to many parts of the country, including one to the Rocky Mountains which provided him with material for many paintings. It is for his scenes of the farms and shoreline of Long Island and New England, however, that he is best known.
Mr. Smillie was born in New York City in 1840. His father, James Smillie, was a well known engraver, and as a boy George studied under him. He also studied painting with James McDougal Hart, an important landscape painter of the period. Two older brothers, James, Jr. and William, also became artists and engravers.
In 1871, Smillie made a trip to the Rocky Mountains and the Yosemite Valley of California, to sketch and paint. He used the material he gathered for years afterward for oils and watercolors. Most of his paintings were mountain landscapes, but some also included the Indians then native to the two regions.
Smillie also traveled to Florida to paint, but for most of his life he lived and worked in the New York City area. In 1881, He married Nellie Jacobs, a genre painter who had been a student of his brother James, and for many years the three shared a studio in suburban Bronxville. He died in Bronxville in 1921.