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Jane Stewart Smith watercolours of Edinburgh

Jane Stewart Smith watercolours of Edinburgh
Jane Stewart Smith watercolours of Edinburgh
Edinburgh based artist Jane Stewart Smith was born in London in 1839. She principally produced scenes of Edinburgh’s streets and buildings in oil and watercolour.

She was the author of two books, 'The Grange of St Giles' (1898) and 'Historic Stones of Bygone Edinburgh' (1924).

She was working as a governess before she married Edinburgh framer and picture dealer John Stewart Smith in 1864, at the age of 24.

Her paintings were a valuable record of areas that might be demolished, and their importance was evident later to those who had seen many changes in the city. As well as recording architectural landscape and detail, the pictures are full of atmosphere, with street life closely observed. We see traders, carters and washing hanging from the upper windows.

Stewart Smith would rise early to draw and paint these scenes before there were many people around. It was unconventional, daring even, for a woman to work alone outdoors in the poorest and less salubrious parts of the town.

Her landscape paintings were included in almost every Royal Scottish Academy exhibition from 1865 to 1887. As well as scenes of Edinburgh she also painted in Fife and East Lothian as well as other areas of Scotland. Other pictures shown at the RSA featured scenes of Shrewsbury, Chester, Rouen and Genoa.

When the First World War broke out the Stewart Smiths had been married fifty years. They helped with fundraising with the Belgian relief effort through the Edinburgh French Protestant Church with which they were both involved.

John Stewart Smith died in 1921. At that time, they had been living in Portobello together with a friend Catherine Roberts a retired dressmaker.

Jane Stewart Smith died on 1 December 1925 aged 86.

Read more about the life and art of Jane Stewart Smith on Edinburgh Footnotes.