Avid art collectors, George and Belle Smith traveled to Europe in 1882, just after promising their art collection to the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. The couple had planned a two-year sojourn to study and collect fine and decorative arts. Many socialites and intellects participated in the Grand Tour of Europe, a favorite activity for English and American aristocrats beginning in the late 17th century through the Victorian era. Because the Smiths enjoyed the opportunities available to them in Europe, they extended their visit by almost four years.
For two-and-a-half years, the Smiths lived in Venice, Italy, and the couple purchased the paintings on display in this gallery and the lobby during that time, including works by Noè Bordignon, Raffaele Mainella, Pietro Pajetta, Pasquale Ruggiero and Ettore Tito.