Alice is a beautifully illustrated, personal account of one of Charleston’s most acclaimed artists. Written by Dwight McInvaill with Caroline Palmer and Anne Tinker.
Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876–1958), a leader of the Charleston Renaissance, immortalized the beauty and history of the Carolina Lowcountry and helped propel the region into an important destination for cultural tourism.
Alice is a personal account of the artist’s life and work that draws on unpublished papers, letters, and interviews. It is enriched by over 200 illustrations of paintings, prints, sketches, and photographs, many shared for the first time. This hardcover volume about Alice Smith is both an important contribution to Southern art scholarship and a gorgeous addition to the bookshelves of art and history lovers.
The book is published by Evening Post Books and available in hardcover for $60.00 at the Middleton Place store and wherever fine books are sold. Net proceeds from the sale of the book benefit Middleton Place Foundation and its mission to inspire, educate, and enact positive change through an understanding of American history.
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A lifelong Charleston resident with limited professional training, Alice Smith forged her style from a wide range of sources—her French teacher at the local Carolina Art Association, mentors who introduced her to Tonalism and Japanese woodblock prints, and extensive fieldwork. In a career of sixty years, she defied gender expectations and gained national acclaim.
Descended from prominent rice planters, Alice’s work reflects a reverence for nature and nostalgia for an idealized past. She helped spark Charleston’s historic preservation movement, depicted the waning days of rice planting, and captured the mystical spirit of the Lowcountry’s coast, marshes, and woodlands in luminous watercolors.
Alice was one of the principal guiding lights of an invigorating cultural change that flourished between the twentieth century’s two world wars called the Charleston Renaissance. In recent years, this artistic and cultural movement has been reexamined for its elitist perspective and romanticized view of Charleston and the city’s fraught history. Alice’s story raises important questions about historical memory and the forces that shaped Charleston into the city it is today.
PRAISE FOR ALICE
“Renowned Charleston artist Alice Smith was a naturalist, photographer, teacher, author, and visual master who dedicated years to studying and depicting the Lowcountry, including laborers of West African descent and their contributions to the history of rice cultivation. This book brings Smith’s creative journey to life and shows why she remains one of South Carolina’s most beloved artists.”—Jonathan Green, internationally acclaimed artist and Charleston’s Ambassador of the Arts; considered one of the most important contemporary painters of the Southern experience
“Writing a book is a labor of love. This volume is a testament to that tried and true statement. Dwight McInvaill, son of Alice Smith’s close friend, Harry McInvaill, has had access to family recollections as well as a trove of correspondence, photographs, and sketches unavailable earlier. He has benefited greatly from his collaboration with Smith family members Anne Gaud Tinker and Caroline Palmer who have overseen myriad details and added skillful polish to his manuscript. The book is a must-have for anyone interested in the art of the South.”—Martha R. Severens, curator, Gibbes Museum of Art, 1976–1987, and Greenville County Museum of Art, 1992–2010; author of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith: An Artist, a Place, and a Time and The Charleston Renaissance
“Dwight McInvaill presents new and illuminating information that provides greater clarity into Alice Smith’s relationships, techniques, and subject matter during her long and illustrious career. His many revelations and observations explain why Smith’s work is so appealing and why it endures. While we must always consider the lens through which each of us approaches her work, Smith’s professional discipline, artistic skill, and undeniable love for the Gibbes Museum of Art secure her place as one of the most revered American artists from the South.”—Angela D. Mack, executive director, Gibbes Museum of Art
“This richly illustrated volume probes myriad influences and aspects of Alice’s life and art, presenting many works and writings to the public for the first time. Alice Smith embodied the cultural and physical landscape of Charleston and the Lowcountry, and rendered them in wholly original and exquisite ways. Dwight McInvaill’s book reveals her legacy in all its complexity and beauty.“—Virginia C. Beach, author of Rice & Ducks: The Surprising Convergence that Saved the Carolina Lowcountry
“Such a beautiful and important documentation of Alice Smith’s artistic contributions and legacy.”—Winslow Hastie, president & CEO, Historic Charleston Foundation
“It’s a rare book that combines sensuous beauty with scrupulous scholarly truth, but Alice does just that. There’s a present on every page: with feasts for the eye, matched with a compelling story of a life of artistic accomplishments. Alice Ravenel Huger Smith has found her champions at last.”—Harlan Greene, special collections scholar in residence at the College of Charleston
“The foremost artist of the Charleston Renaissance, Alice Smith’s work traveled far and well then as it does today. Her watercolors are widely marveled over and collected, assuring her place in the top tier of American watercolorists. Alice will underscore her place with Hassam, Burchfield and Sargent, bravo!”—Robert M. Hicklin, Jr., owner, The Charleston Renaissance Gallery
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
directs the Georgetown County Library. An award-winning librarian and researcher, he has given many lectures on Alice.
is a communications, marketing, and human resources professional. She is Alice’s great-great-niece.
is a retired international health specialist who has authored journal articles and books on women’s health. She is Alice’s great-niece.
We would like to thank those who made this book possible, particularly Dr. & Mrs. Louis D. Wright, Jr., Florence County Museum, Florence, S.C., Wright Foundation for Southern Art.
All images on this website are subject to copyright and not to be reproduced in any form or by any means without express written consent from the owner.