Hely Smith

British, b.1862, d.1941

The Fog Horn

  • Presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1932
  • Oil on canvas
  • 860 x 1000mm
  • 69/574
  • 1896

As the moods and images of the sea are ever-changing, the marine painter needs to use a different approach from the landscape artist. In this work Smith has ably captured the mood of the marine-scape as the vessels are caught in the fog and the sound of the mournful foghorn reminds the mariners that collision and calamity are ever present.

Smith who was a specialist in marine and shipping subjects, began his art studies at Lincoln School of Art and followed this with some time as a student at the Antwerp Academy, Belgium. Although he lived most of his life in London, he often painted in Europe. He began exhibiting in 1890 so this is an early work, and painted in a less impressionistic style than those he later painted in the 1920s.

Although he also painted portraits and flowers, Smith's interest in ships was very strong and as well as painting he was well-regarded as a model maker. This accuracy and attention to the details of ships is well demonstated here. The Fog Horn was purchased by the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1903 and remained in their collection until 1996 when it was acquired for this Gallery.