William Thomas Smedley was known first as an illustrator and then for his portrayals of fashionable men and women in social settings. He rode the crest of a boom in the demand for illustrations created for books, magazines, news- papers, and posters that reached its peak in America in the late 1890s. Around 1900 Smedley turned from illustration to easel painting, and to portraiture in particular. One critic expressed his view that, “As with all serious illustrators who have eventually become painters, there is about Mr. Smedley’s portraiture an honesty that is positively refreshing.”
Smedley lived at 26 Prescott Avenue from 1896-1920.
This delightful painting of a woman, a neighbor perhaps, is less formal than the large commissioned portraits that afforded the artist so much financial success. It was painted quickly in the Impressionist style. The young lady seems perfectly at ease as she poses on a balcony in the sunshine, her blue parasol at her side; the red patterned carpet hanging on the railing adds a vibrant contrast to the dappled green backdrop and the lady’s yellow hat.