century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

William T. Smedley


Centurion, 1899–1920

Full Name William Thomas Smedley

Born 26 March 1858 in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Died 26 March 1920 in Bronxville, New York

Buried Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York

Proposed by Eastman Johnson and Charles Y. Turner

Elected 3 June 1899 at age forty-one

Seconder of:

Century Memorial

Of William Thomas Smedley, whose stalwart presence and cheerful personality were always greeted heartily at the Century, it is hard to say whether admiration of his artistic achievement or affection for the man will hold first place. His career in art was in many ways remarkable; not least so from the fact that, after devoting half his active years to highly successful work as illustrator in black and white, he was able in middle life deliberately to relinquish that profitable field and devote himself with even greater success to the work of portrait painter. After two decades of this bold professional experiment, it was one of our best living artists who declared, at Smedley’s death, that he “hardly knew anyone who, as a painter and an influence and a man, would leave such a gap.” Perhaps his fellow-Centurions will like best to associate the memory of his art with that appealing portrait of the boy soldier, ready and eager to take his place in France yet looking wistfully into the uncertain future—a painting which, as it hung in our gallery three years ago, was in its way the story of the war.

Smedley was as loyal to the Century as to his art; in the Club his strong convictions on questions of the day, expressed in vigorous words but reflecting a particularly sane and well-balanced mind, made his conversation always pleasing. He was as uncompromising an enemy to sham and as quick to display indignation at injustice as he was ready in recognition of a good piece of work or a kindly act. His intimate friendship even with little children and their trust in him were possibly the finest evidence of his simple and honest soul.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1921 Century Association Yearbook