Self portrait by Dorothy Carleton Smyth (1880-1933), painted 1921, oil on canvas.
Smyth was born in Glasgow, the daughter of a jute manufacturer. She studied art in Manchester and then attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1895 until 1905. Her stained glass piece Tristan and Iseult was exhibited at the International Exhibition in 1901, and in 1903 an anonymous female patron paid for Smyth to study in Europe.
At first Smyth was best known as a portraitist, particularly for her sketches of theatre personalities. Later she specialised in theatre costume working in London, Paris and Sweden. She designed costumes for several of the Shakespearean Festivals held in Stratford-upon-Avon, beginning in 1906.
Smyth was appointed Principal of Commercial Art at Glasgow School of Art in 1914, and began to concentrate more on teaching than costume design. However, in 1916 she designed costume and decoration for the Quinlan Opera Company's world tour. In 1933 Smyth was appointed as the first woman director of the School of Art, but died before she could take up the post.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums