Albert Alexander Smith
Albert Alexander Smith was born September 17, 1896, in New York City. He was the first African American to win a scholarship, and later became the first African American to study at the National Academy of Design.
He enlisted in the Army in World War I and saw action overseas while serving in the 807 Pioneer Band. He returned to the National Academy of Design after the war, but soon left again for Paris, attracted by the freedom and lesser degree of
Smith was best known as a graphic artist. His portraits of famous blacks were sensitive as well as beautiful. His illustrations often appeared in the magazines Opportunity, The Crisis, and The Fall of the Castle, when he was still a student.
In Paris, he won the Harmon Foundation’s bronze medal for his paintings and prints. He traveled throughout Europe, making etched views in Spain, France and Italy. His series of portraits depicting famous black Americans are at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Smith lived the rest of his life in Paris.