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Smillie's Seal Harbor, Mount Desert

George Henry Smillie (1840–1921), Seal Harbor, Mount Desert, c. 1893, watercolor on paper, John Wilmerding Collection

Although this watercolor conveys impressionistic effects of color and light, the work is based on careful draftsmanship.  George Henry Smillie was less interested in objectively rendering optical effects than in conveying feelings and moods through his strikingly simplified compositions. He marveled at the fact that while landscape painting could be defined as a horizon crossed by a diagonal, it was a formula capable of expressing an endless variety of emotions. Late in his career he wrote, "The longer man lives the simpler grows the composition."


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