Born in Greenwich, W.C. Smith was a pupil of J.D. Harding (1797-1863), but was mostly self-taught. He participated in the `Old' Society of Painters in Watercolours (later the Royal Water Colour Society), serving as both Treasurer and Trustee and was actively involved in the formation of the R.W.S. Arts Club, for which he also served as Treasurer. From his home at Wyndham Lodge, 13 Brixton Hill, Smith operated one of the largest art schools in London, teaching drawing and painting. He is most well-known for his landscapes in watercolours and travelled extensively in Europe after 1852 creating many works set in Italy.