Arthur Reginald Smith, ARA RSW RWS (1871-1934) Though most associated with his fresh and silvery watercolours of his native Yorkshire and, more generally, of northern England, Arthur Reginald Smith also captured the warmth of Italy.
Arthur Reginald Smith was born in Skipton-in-Craven, Yorkshire, and grew up in Threshfield. From an early age, he wanted to become an artist. However, he was educated at a County Congregational school which devoted little time to drawing, and was discouraged from his artistic ambitions by his parents. Becoming an elementary teacher, at their insistence, he studied art in evening classes at Keighley School of Art and spent his holidays in sketching.
Once his artistic talents were properly recognised, he gained a place in the Painting School of the Royal College of Art (1901-4), and was awarded a travel scholarship which enabled him to travel to Italy (1906). Augustus Spencer, the College Principal, then found him teaching positions at schools in London, and he supplemented this work by running art classes at Leighton House.
He exhibited at such leading London venues as the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours, and also in the provinces and abroad.
During the early period, he received commissions to execute watercolours of the private apartments at Marlborough House and Buckingham Palace, and some of the latter were included in his first solo show at the Fine Art Society in 1914. (He held a further four shows with that dealer, the last being in the year of his death.) His proposed election as an Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours was interrupted by the outbreak of war, during which he served in the Artists Rifles. He was subsequently elected an Associate in 1917, a full member in 1925, and a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1926. At the end of the First World War, he returned to Yorkshire and remained there for the rest of his life. Partly through association with the Wharfedale Group, he found his proper inspiration in the hills around his home at Grassington. He also illustrated Halliwell Sutcliffe’s The Striding Dales (1929) and a reprint of W G Collingwood’s The Lake Counties (1932).
He drowned while painting at Bolton Abbey, fifty yards below where the Strid meets the Wharfe.