James David Smillie

1833 -1909

James David Smillie came from a family whose interests revolved around visual arts. His father, an engraver, originally emigrated from Scotland to Quebec, Canada in 1829. By 1833 the family had again moved, this time to New York, where Smillie’s father was elected to the National Academy of Design.

Smillie followed his father into the engraving business and did early work doing steel engravings for banknotes as well as engraved illustrations for James Fenimore Cooper novels.

Smillie was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1865 and elevated to Academician in 1876. He was also skilled in watercolors and was the founder of the American Watercolor Society. His printmaking interests turned to etching and he joined the NY Etching Club. Through that group, he came to have his etchings published in the American Art Review.

Although other artists had visited Yosemite Valley twenty years before him, Smillie’s illustrations of Yosemite were more widely published. Smillie wrote and did 20 etchings to illustrate Yosemite Valley in Volume I of Picturesque America published in 1872. In doing this, he was influential in providing visual documentation that planted in people’s minds that Yosemite should be preserved. Smillie may have met John Muir, also of Scottish heritage, when he visited Yosemite in 1871.

Smillie’s work can be found in the Yosemite Museum, the Smithsonian, the Corcoran Gallery, Denver Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oakland Museum, the Print Club of Albany, and other institutions.

Signed in the plate 1871
Image size 5” x 6 ¾”
Sheet size 9” x 12”
$195.00 unframed, excellent image, old tape mark on left edge of sheet, would not be visible when framed