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Smith, Ralph Waldo
b. October 9, 1877
Discipline: Painting

Ralph Waldo Smith was born in Spring Valley, Fillmore County, Minnesota. In 1902, he claimed a homestead near the town of Antler in the north central part of North Dakota.

His first formal training as a painter came under Zoe Beiler at the Dickinson State Teachers College. He later studied in Texas and California before returning to Dickinson. There he took a position as a federal agronomist at the Dickinson Experimental Station.

Agronomy is the science of the successful growing of crops. Smith, being trained in both this and painting, was commissioned by the State Historical Society to produce a series of work depicting the progress of farm machinery. Each painting was devoted to a particular type of equipment such as oxen and plow or large steam threshers.

Smith was also a portrait painter who had fourteen pieces commissioned by the Historical Society. These portraits, along with the farm machinery pieces, are housed in the society’s permanent collection.

- Ben Nemenoff


Barr, Paul E. North Dakota Artists. Grand Forks: University of North Dakota Library, 1954.

Taylor, Edwin Mrs. Catalogue of Art Workers Within North Dakota. Bismarck: American Association of University Women (local branch), 1945.

*Image courtesy of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Painting by Smith

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