Clarice Smith, artist and D.C. philanthropist, dies at 88

Clarice Smith with one of her paintings in 1996. (John T. Consoli/University of Maryland)

By Matt SchudelWashington Post
December 16, 2021 at 8:04 p.m. EST

Clarice Smith, an artist whose paintings have been exhibited around the world and who, with her late husband, donated hundreds of millions of dollars to educational and cultural organizations,primarily in the Washington region, died Dec. 9 at her home in Arlington, Va. She was 88.

The death was confirmed by her son, David Bruce Smith, who declined to cite a specific cause.

Mrs. Smith had a career of more than four decades as an artist, working primarily in a traditional representational style. With painters James McNeil Whistler, Edouard Manet and John Singer Sargent asher artistic models, she painted portraits, still-life arrangements, landscapes and scenes of horse racing and golf. She also created works in stained glass.

“I paint the scenes of my life,” Mrs. Smith told GW Today in 2013, when an exhibition of her work opened at George Washington University’s Luther W. Brady Art Gallery. “I’m not interested in just painting a pretty flower — I want to invoke a memory or a feeling.”

She had solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Kreeger Museum in Washington,the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the New-York Historical Society and in New York, London, Paris, Zurichand Jerusalem. One of her paintings is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In 2014, some of her equestrian paintings were displayed at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Va.

“I’m not at all horsey,” Mrs. Smith told Middleburg Life magazine at the time, confessing that she hadn’t ridden in 30 years and that she had an allergy to horses. She also illustrated several historical books for young adults written by her son.

Mrs. Smith was perhaps best known for the far-reaching philanthropical work that she and her husband, the late Robert H. Smith, undertook. Her husband, a wealthy real estate developer and University of Maryland graduate, gave an estimated $100 million to his alma mater.

A $15 million donation led to the construction of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, which opened on the university’s College Park campus in 2001. It has six performance venues and is known by students and faculty as “The Clarice.”

Through a family foundation, Mrs. Smith also supported U-Md. scholarships, professorships and the development of a library dedicated to the performing arts. In an online obituary, the university’s president, Darryll J. Pines, called her “an unparalleled champion for the arts.”

Mrs. Smith also had a long association with GWU, which she attended in the 1970s at the same time her sons were enrolled. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1976 and a master of fine arts degree in 1979. She taught painting and drawing at the university from 1980 to 1987.

She and her husband supported numerous cultural programs at GWU, student aid efforts, academic programs and other projects. An art exhibition space at the university is named in their honor.

Mrs. Smith received an honorary doctorate from GWU in 2012 and another from U-Md. in 2015.

She and her husband were noted art collectors and donated many paintings and drawings to the National Gallery of Art. Their collection of Renaissance bronze sculpture, called one of the finest in the world,is slated to be given to the gallery. Mrs. Smith was also a member of National Gallery fundraising and membership groups.

“Her generosity was focused primarily on the humanities,” her son said, noting that she helped underwrite lectures on opera at the Kennedy Center and programs at Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre.

She also contributed to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Johns Hopkins University’s Wilmer Eye Institute and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., named after her husband’s father.

Clarice Rae Chasen was born Jan. 16, 1933, in Washington. Her parents had a grocery store and later were involved in real estate.

She attended the University of Maryland before marrying her husband in 1952. With a brother-in-law, Robert P. Kogod, Robert Smith ran the Charles E. Smith companies, which developed the Crystal City area of Arlington and became the largest single property owner in the Washington region.

Mrs. Smith lived in Crystal City and on a 500-acre farm in Upperville, Va., called Heronwood, which contained an 18-hole golf course. She and her husband donated land for the annual Upperville Colt & Horse Show.

Her husband died in 2009 after 57 years of marriage. Two children, Steven Smith and Michelle Smith, died in 2003 and 2020, respectively.

Survivors include her son, David Bruce Smith of Bethesda, Md.; a brother, Dr. Gerald Chasen of Potomac, Md.; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Washington Post article

The World Through the Eyes of a UMD Benefactor

Clarice Smith’s Paintings Go on Display at Her Namesake Building
Maryland Today – February 14, 2023
By Sala Levin ’10


Herons in Flight

A penchant for experimentation led Clarice Smith to expand from painting into the arena of leaded glass, inspired in part by the works of the women designers at Tiffany Studios. Through color, composition, and subject, her Herons in Flight (2018) evokes the possibility of freedom in collective uplift. Made in collaboration with Venturella Studio  of New York City, the transom window is installed on the fourth floor of the New-York Historical Society near its Center for Women’s History.

Clarice Smith working on Herons in Flight

The transom window installed.

Last of Summer

Review of Clarice Smith’s Kreeger Museum exhibition in the “Weekend Section” of The Washington Post.


Clarice Smith has expanded her area of work to stained glass. She worked with Thomas Venturella and Jim Murphy at Venturella Studio to create the stained glass piece that is located in an oculus inside the Grand Hall of the New-York Historical Society. The stained glass piece was unveiled on September 13, 2016.


Triptych is a decorative screen by Clarice Smith and American modernist sculptor Albert Paley. The collaborative piece evokes the timeless beauty of design and was the central piece of two exhibitions: one at the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C., 2016, the other at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, NY, 2020.

Currently on display and in the permanent collection of the Orlando Museum of Art.

White Cascade

Standing Jockeys

Dead Heat

Derniere Ligne Droite Right

Chantilly I

Chantilly II


Horse Huddle

Horses at the Stall Door

Jockeys II

Leaving the Gate

Neck & Neck

Paddock Rendezvous

Polo I

Polo II

Twilight Race

Woodland Ride

Farm Creek

Salmon Season Scotland


Isle of Harris, Scotland



Skyscape I

Skyscape III

Skyscape IV

View Through the Balcony Villefranche

Villa on High

The Bridge

Shoe Department

Pub Exterior

Porte Bistro

Harbor at Beaulieu II


Gondolas at Rest

Facade Bruges Window




Cote d’Azur Pines

Cap Ferrat

Corniche at Dusk

Beaulieu II

White Tablecloths




Serene Green

Roses in a Wooden Tankard

Poppies in a Field



Outdoor Floral

Hydrangeas III

Harmony in Orange and Grey

Harmony in Blue and Brown

Grecian Glory


Elena II

Karen’s Hat

Odermatt Portrait of Herve

Outdoor Lady


Grega Standing

Souvenirs of the Riviera

Suddenly a widow, an artist returns to the South of France, to see if she can still paint, and reclaim the joy of her former life.

David Bruce Smith and Clarice Smith have been collaborating for more than 30 years.

David Bruce Smith is the founder of the Grateful American Foundation and co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize. He has also authored 13 books.

Clarice Smith is an internationally renowned artist who has exhibited her paintings all over the world.

Constance J. Milstein and the French-American Cultural Foundation are honored to reinforce the vibrant history of expatriate artists who were inspired by its beauty.

Abigail & John

Abigail & John offers readers the opportunity to view prominent scenes in American history through the remarkable lives of one of the country’s most beloved couples—the Adams’s. Exploring the historical significance of a partnership that spanned over five decades, the book details the love they shared for each other and the country. From carefree childhoods to years of war, to the births of their children, and the beginning of a new nation, Abigail & John looks into the unique roles the Adams’s played in the formation of America, and contributions and sacrifices they made for the young country.

From David Bruce Smith, author of American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States, and his mother Clarice Smith, world renowned artist, comes this compelling and insightful historical biography of Abigail and John Adams. This unique nonfiction children’s book tells the story of one of America’s most-treasured couples alongside stunning and original illustrations.

Abigail & John is the inaugural book of the Grateful American Book Series. The book series will focus on the presidential and historical marriages that influenced the nation’s history.

Afternoon Tea with Mom

A gift from a son to his mother, this coffee table sized book, illuminates the art—portraiture, florals and equestrian—of Clarice Smith.

Conversations with Papa Charlie

David Bruce Smith offers us this charming memory of his remarkable grandfather—a Russian Jew who immigrated to America in 1911 and built the Charles E. Smith real estate empire.

In these pages, you too will feel you are listening to stories about the amazing life of this kindly but business-savvy entrepreneur, and to gentle advice for succeeding in your own life.

“I was a lucky grandson,” writes David Bruce Smith. “Papa Charlie was kind and gentle, and his laughter could instantly dispel sadness. His eyes always sparkled with youth because he was ever-youthful and adventurous. But the most important thing he did for me was to constantly encourage me, even if I didn’t always understand why.”

Sold out through David Bruce Smith Publications. Order a print or ebook through Amazon.


“TENNESSEE” is a limited edition, four-color letterpress three-volume collection that contains the first publication—and printing—of Tennessee Williams’s recently discovered play, “These Are the Stairs You Got to Watch.” It is accompanied by “The Glass Menagerie” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Also included within is original artwork by the world renowned artist, Clarice Smith, who was commissioned to create six, full page works of “Tennessee’s Women.” David Bruce Smith, publisher of the collection, has provided the commentary. Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre and friend to Williams, authored the preface.

Tennessee Williams is the AMERICAN Shakespeare

This limited collection is the perfect gift for dignitaries, heads of executive agencies, Corporate CEO’s, university and foundation executives and other national and world leaders. Please feel free to email or call us at 703.786.1430 if you have any questions about ordering this limited-edition book.


The Whole Book Experience has a wonderful, in-depth article about TENNESSEE.

You may also schedule an appointment to view the book in Washington, DC.

Three Miles from Providence

In this unique book about Abraham Lincoln the author has created a fictitious veteran of the Mexican-American War who is subsequently asked to guard Lincoln at the White House, and the Soldiers’ Home—the “Camp David” of the times where Lincoln spent one quarter of his presidency, and is believed to have written a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Told in diary form, “Three Miles from Providence” starts at Lincoln’s inaugural in 1861 and concludes seven generations later in 2008. During the intervening 137 years, the reader learns what happens—and what doesn’t—at the Soldiers’ Cottage. Smith has deftly distinguished each generation by a switch of font.

For more information on the history of the Soldiers’ Home visit their website.

American Hero

John Marshall was a good son, a kind older brother, a loving father and husband, and a dear friend to many. He was a soldier for the Revolutionary Army, a successful lawyer, a congressman, and Secretary of State. Most importantly, he was Chief Justice of the United States. As Chief Justice, John Marshall made the Supreme Court the strong and powerful body it is today. Richly illustrated in graphite and watercolor, American Hero tells the life story of the founding father history almost forgot—John Marshall, the Great Chief Justice.

If you want a signed copy, order here.

Flowering Plant

Galle Glass

Orange and White Lilies in Clear Glass Vases

Floral in Deep Blue

Four Glazed White Pots

Floral Dark

Flagstone Path

Darkness in Bloom


Early Spring


CONTINUUM was the second collaboration between David Bruce Smith and artist Clarice Smith. Her series of Venetian paintings provided the context for him to write about his mother’s repeatedly enchanted journeys to the “City of Light.”

The book was commissioned by The National Museum of Women in the Arts, as was the lithograph. A limited edition of 100, each priced at $1,000.


Washington Post – December 16, 2021
Clarice Smith, artist and D.C. philanthropist, dies at 88
By Matt Schudel


American Contempories Gerald Peters Gallery

Several of Clarice Smith’s paintings are included.

More details here


Clarice Smith’s paintings picked for set.

The new HBO mini-series “The Undoing” stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. Four of Clarice Smith’s paintings were picked for the set and are featured in Nicole Kidman’s New York City apartment.

New Exhibit 2020

Winter Armory Show,  Park Avenue Armory, January 24 to February 2, 2020.

Clarice Smith will be featuring  her work produced in collaboration with metal sculptor Albert Paley, entitled Triptych. It is a large piece and she painted the three panels, front and back, that fit into the metal structure created by Albert Paley.

The Gerald Peters Gallery is putting Triptych on exhibit at their booth.


Gerald Peters Gallery, New York City Feb 18 – Mar 22, 2019

New Work: White Cascade, 2019, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Latest Stained Glass Work

A penchant for experimentation led Clarice Smith to expand from painting into the arena of leaded glass, inspired in part by the works of the women designers at Tiffany Studios. Through color, composition, and subject, her Herons in Flight (2018) evokes the possibility of freedom in collective uplift. Made in collaboration with Venturella Studio  of New York City, the transom window is installed on the fourth floor of the New-York Historical Society near its Center for Women’s History.

A painter’s unbridled hand matches a sculptor’s experiment with twisting steel

Washington Post – December 8, 2016
A painter’s unbridled hand matches a sculptor’s experiment with twisting steel
By Mark Jenkins

Review of Clarice Smith’s Kreeger Museum exhibition in the “Weekend Section” of The Washington Post.

The Power and Grace of Clarice Smith

Middleburg Life – July 2014
The Power and Grace of Clarice Smith
By Vicky Moon