The Mary Smith Prize (defunct) was a prestigious art prize awarded to women artists by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It recognized the best work by a Philadelphia woman artist at PAFA's annual exhibition — one that showed "the most originality of subject, beauty of design and drawing, and finesse of color and skill of execution".[1][2] The prize was founded in 1879 by Russell Smith in memory of his deceased daughter, artist Mary Russell Smith.[3][4] It was awarded from 1879 to 1968.[5]

Russell, Mary Priscilla, and Mary Smith



In the nineteenth century, women artists were rarely awarded major prizes. They were mostly limited to prizes designated for them. But rare exceptions included: Anna Elizabeth Klumpke, who won the 1889 Temple Gold Medal at PAFA; Mary Hazelton, who won the 1896 Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design;[4] and Cecilia Beaux, who won the 1899 Carnegie Prize at the Carnegie Museum of Art and the 1900 Temple Gold Medal at PAFA.

Initially, the Mary Smith Prize carried a cash prize of $100, which was increased to $300 in 1960.[2] Cecilia Beaux had won this prize four times before she was awarded the Temple Gold Medal.

Other 19th-century prizes for women artists were the Dodge Prize at the National Academy of Design and the Shaw Prize at the Society of American Artists.

Mary Russell Smith (1842–1878), Springs Bounty.

Mary Russell Smith


Mary Russell Smith was the daughter of landscape and theatrical scenery painter William Thompson Russell Smith (Russell Smith) (1812–96) and amateur artist Mary Priscilla Wilson Smith (1819–74). Both of her parents exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.[6] Mary and her brother, Xanthus Russell Smith, both developed an interest in painting. Xanthus attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Mary exhibited her paintings of rabbits, chicks, and other animals there 1859 to 1869, and again between 1876 and 1878.

Russell Smith established the Mary Smith Prize following her death.[6] Mary Russell Smith had designated that upon her death the proceeds of the sale of her paintings should be used to fund the prize, to be awarded to women artists.[4]


Year Artist Image Work Collection Notes
1879 Susan Macdowell Eakins[7]   Portrait of a Gentleman and Dog Taubman Museum of Art,
Roanoke, Virginia
Portrait of the artist's father.
1880 Catherine A. Janvier[3]   Old-Fashioned Music
(The Guitar Player)
Private collection
1881 Emily Sartain[8] Marie
1882 Mary K. Trotter[3] May
1883 Emily Sartain Metelill
1884 Lucy D. Holme[3] Petrona[9]
1885 Cecilia Beaux[3]   Les Derniers Jours d'Enfance
(The Last Days of Infancy)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Portrait of the artist's sister, Etta Beaux Drinker,
and nephew Henry.
Exhibited: 1887 Paris Salon
1886 No exhibition
1887 Cecilia Beaux A Little Girl (Fanny Travis Cochran)[11] Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1888 Elizabeth F. Bonsall[3] Paying the Model
1889 Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts[1][a] Die Flucht (The Flight)
1890 Alice Barber Stephens[3] Portrait of a Boy
1891 Cecilia Beaux Portrait (pastel)
1892 Cecilia Beaux Portrait
1893 No exhibition
1894 Maria L. Kirk[3] Portrait
1895 Gabrielle D. Clements[3] Granite Cutting at Cape Ann
1896 Elizabeth H. Watson[3] Portrait of Reverend Dr. Watson
1897 Elizabeth F. Bonsall Hot Milk[13] Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1898 Caroline Peart[3] Once upon a Time[14] Phillips Museum of Art,
Franklin & Marshall College
1899 Carol H. Beck[3] Study Following the artist's death in 1908, the Carol H.
Beck Gold Medal was founded in her memory.
1900 Mary F. R. Clay[3] Portrait of Irene K. Honorable mention: Janet Wheeler
1901 Janet Wheeler[3] Portrait of Mrs. Louise Starr
1902 Elinor Earle[3] Fire Light
1903 Jessie Willcox Smith[3]   A Mother's Days[15]
(set of 8 watercolor illustrations)
Published in Scribner's Monthly Magazine,
December 1902.
1904 Lillian M. Genth[3] Peasant Houses
1905 Elizabeth Shippen Green[3] set of 12 watercolor illustrations for
"The Thousand Quilt" (short story)
Annie Hamilton Donnell, "The Thousand Quilt,"
Harper's Monthly Magazine, December 1904.[16]
1906 Alice Mumford Roberts[3] Two Vaudeville Stars
1907 Mary Smyth Perkins[3] Cows
1908 Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones[3] Roller Skates
1909 Martha Walter[17] Portrait
1910 Alice Mumford Roberts The Morning Air
1911 Alice Kent Stoddard[3]   Portrait of Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1912 Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones In the Spring
1913 Alice Kent Stoddard Little Girl Cutting Dolls
1914 Nina B. Ward[3] Elizabeth[18] Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1915 Gertrude A. Lambert[12] Carpet Rags
1916 Nancy M. Ferguson[12] In Provincetown
1917 Elizabeth F. Washington[12] Winter[19]
1918 Helen K. McCarthy[12] Farms in Hill Country
1919 Juliet White Gross[12] On the Hill
1920 Mildred B. Miller In the Window[20]
1921 Katherine Patton Deep in the Woods
1922 Mary Townsend Mason Still Life with Fruit
1923 Isabel Branson Cartwright Portrait: H.B.S.
1924 Lillian B. Meeser The Green Bottle
1925 Mary Butler Flood Tide
1926 Wenonah Bell Still Life
1927 Pearl Aiman Van Sciver New Hope
1928 Laura D. S. Ladd Still Life and Dahlias
1929 Edith McMurtrie Harpooning Horse Mackerel
1930 Grace Gemberling Rocks and Flowers
1931 Mildred B. Miller Yuanshi Kuo
1932 Virginia Armitage McCall Waldron Academy, Overbrook
1933 Catherine Morris Wright After Lunch
1934 Elizabeth F. Washington The Bend in the Creek
1935 Margaretta S. Hinchman Portrait of a Nun
1936 Alice T. Roberts T'Ang Horses
1937 Henriette Wyeth Peter Hurd El Paso Museum of Art
1938 Irene Denney The "5 and 10"
1939 Mary Townsend Mason Flowers
1940 Frances Cowan Wetzel's Kitchen
1941 Sarah Blakeslee Along the River
1942 Faye Swengel Bucks County Farmer
1943 Margaretta S. Hinchman I Know the Lord Laid His Hand on Me
1944 Doris Kunzie Weidner Holliday's Mill
1945 Catherine Grant Captain Charlie and the Hawk's Nest
1946 Doris Kunzie Weidner Deserted Farm
1947 Agnes Allen Portrait of J. Somers Smith The State in Schuylkill, Philadelphia
1948 Violet Oakley Christ and the Woman of Samaria[21] First Presbyterian Church in Germantown,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1949 Catherine Grant The Villa Marie
1950 Marie-Celeste Fadden French Child on Train
1951 Rita Wolpe Barnett To the Earth
1952 Alice T. Roberts Ipswich Sand Dunes, No. 2
1953 Elsie Manville Yellow Hat
1954 Dora Bortin Russian Tea Service
1955 No exhibition
1956 No prize awarded
1957 No exhibition
1958 Jane Sperry Eisenstat Dead Opossum
1959 No exhibition
1960 Cecilia Finberg Landscape
1961 No exhibition
1962 Elizabeth C. Osborne Girl Sleeping
1963 No exhibition
1964 Virginia Armitage McCall Dahlia: Still Life
1965 No exhibition
1966 Mitzi Melnicoff Children's Hour
1967 No exhibition
1968 Edna Andrade Space Frame D Last Mary Smith Prize awarded

See also



  1. ^ In 1902, Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts, the 1889 recipient of the Mary Smith Prize, founded the Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.[12]


  1. ^ a b "About: Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts". Concord Art Association. Archived from the original on April 7, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Peter H. Falk; Anna Wells Rutledge; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1 November 1989). The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 1914–1968. Sound View Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-932087-07-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1914). Catalogue of the Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture. pp. 10–11.
  4. ^ a b c Kirsten Swinth (2001). Painting Professionals: Women Artists & the Development of Modern American Art, 1870–1930. UNC Press Books. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-8078-4971-2.
  5. ^ Michael David Zellman (1986). American Art Analog: 1688–1842. Chelsea House Publishers. p. 322. ISBN 978-1-55546-001-3.
  6. ^ a b Edward J. Sozanski, Inquirere Art Critic (April 3, 1998). "The Smiths: A Clan Of Artists Rediscovered". The Inquirer ( Philadelphia: Interstate General Media, LLC. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Gaze, Delia (1997). Dictionary of Women Artists. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 485. ISBN 1-884-964-21-4.
  8. ^ Robert McHenry (1980). Famous American Women: A Biographical Dictionary from Colonial Times to the Present. Courier Dover Publications. p. 369. ISBN 978-0-486-24523-2.
  9. ^ Petrona, from ArtNet.
  10. ^ Les Derniers Jours d'Enfance, from PAFA.
  11. ^ A Little Girl, from PAFA.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1919). Catalogue of the Annual Exhibition. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. p. 10.
  13. ^ Hot Milk, from PAFA.
  14. ^ Once upon a Time
  15. ^ "Jessie Willcox Smith - A Mother's Day". Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  16. ^ Donnell, Annie Hamilton (1 December 1904). "The thousand quilt". Retrieved 30 March 2017 – via Harpers.
  17. ^ Paschall, W. Douglass (2002). Impressionist Jewels: The Paintings of Martha Walter. Philadelphia, Pa.: Woodmere Art Museum. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  18. ^ Elizabeth, from PAFA.
  19. ^ Winter (painting), from SIRIS.
  20. ^ In the Window, International Studio, vol. 72 (1920).
  21. ^ Panel V (right), from First Presbyterian Church in Germantown.