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Photographs of Lillian Wilhelm Smith artwork, approximately 1925-1970

Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 10 Sub-Series 7

Scope and Contents

Contains photographs of Lillian Wilhelm Smith and her artwork, predominantly from after Zane Grey's death. It contains photographs of decorative designs and sketches of Native American motifs, the library walls of the Grey home that she decorated, and prints of paintings made by her dating from approximately 1925 to 1970.


  • approximately 1925-1970


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Zane Grey papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Lillian Wilhelm Smith (1882-1872) was an artist and companion to Zane Grey in the early twentieth century. She was also a cousin of Zane Grey's wife, Lina Elise.

Lillian Wilhelm was born in Flagstaff, Arizona and grew up in a prospoerous household in New York City. She was the eldest daughter of Henry and Lenore Wilhelm. She showed an interest in art at an early age, and subsequently attended the Art Student's League, the National Academy, the Leonia School of Art in New Jersey, and Columbia University.

Her interest in the American West was first piqued when she attended a William Cody's "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" at Madison Square Garden in 1907 with Zane Grey. Her relationship with Zane Grey developed when she accompanied him to the Rainbow Bridge in Arizona in 1913 to illustrate his western-themed books. She subsequently accompanied Zane Grey on various trips Kyenta, Arizona, Long Key, Florida, Catalina, California, and visited him several times at his home. During trips to Arizona, she met and developed a firm friendship with John and Louisa Wetherill, and a love of Arizona that would cause her to spend most of her life in the State. She reamined friends with him for many years, although her contact diminished after her marriage to Jess Smith.

She married Westbrooke Robertson in 1917, but they subsequently divorced in 1924. She quickly married Jesse (Jess) Raymond Smith that same year. Lillian and Jess accepted jobs at guest ranches, Lillian began displaying her art at the Monte Vista Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1929, she worked in the art shop of the newly opened Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, and was permitted to sell her own artwork and Hopi-style china. With Jess, she operated a trading post in Tuba City, an orange grove in Phoenix, and a dude ranch in Sedona. She travelled extensively throughout Arizona, and became well-known for her artisitc portrayals of the state and her designs based upon Navajo and Hopi Indian motifs.

Lillian Wilhelm Smith died in Prescott, Arizona in February 1971.


17 photographs

Language of Materials