Arts & Culture

Charleston’s Leading Lady of Art

This spring in the Lowcountry, it’s all about Alice

Photo: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith

Self Portrait, c. 1908. Watercolor on paper, 28 x 20 inches. Collection of Anne Gaud Tinker.

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876–1958), a leading figure of the Charleston Renaissance, was known for her dreamy watercolors of marsh vistas.

But the artist also painted portraits, sketched architectural drawings, and started a local movement of artists dabbling in Japanese woodblock printing inspired by the work of Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai.

photo: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith
Springtime at the Reflection Pool at Middleton Place, c. 1930, watercolor on paper, 10¼ x 14¼ inches. Collection of Charles Duell.

In a new book, Alice: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Charleston Renaissance Artist, Smith’s relatives Caroline Palmer and Anne Gaud Tinker and close family friend Dwight McInvaill describe how Smith was an innovator and influencer long before the latter term became trendy with the Instagram set. “She inspired so many of her contemporaries to strive for artistic excellence,” McInvaill says. 

photo: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith
View Overlooking the Butterfly Lakes and Mill at Middleton Place, c. 1926. Watercolor on paper, 11 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches. Collection of Charles Duell.

New recently opened exhibitions at Middleton Place National Historic Landmark and the Edmondston-Alston House in Charleston, South Carolina, share her rarely seen works (through January 10, 2022). Her rarely exhibited Japanese-influenced painting Moonlight on the Cooper River will also be on display at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston (April 30–October 3), and just might inspire a new generation of artists.

photo: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith
Moonlight on the Cooper River, c. 1919, woodblock print on paper, 15 1/8 x 7 inches, Collection of Dr. & Mrs. Louis D. Wright.

Click here for more information on the book and exhibitions.