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John Raphael Smith

(1751-1812)
John Raphael Smith was born in Derby in 1752 and was apprenticed initially to a linen draper. He began painting miniatures and scraped his first mezzotint in 1769, eventually becoming the most celebrated engraver of the period.

Biography

John Raphael Smith was born in Derby in 1752 and was apprenticed initially to a linen draper. He began painting miniatures and scraped his first mezzotint in 1769, eventually becoming the most celebrated engraver of the period.

On abandoning mezzotint engraving in 1802, Smith devoted himself exclusively to portraiture in pastel. This provided him with a lucrative practise, drawing some forty sitters a week at two guineas a head. Even when he increased his prices to eight guineas there was no fall in demand.

His patrons included prominent Whigs such as the Duke of Bedford, Lord Holland and Sir Francis Burdett. Smith's portraits of Fox are considered to be amongst the finest of these. When exhibited at the Academy of 1802, it was described by the Library of the Fine Arts, as at once simple and dignified; in action easy and natural, and in resemblance perhaps the most perfect that has appeared.

Read full biography

John Raphael Smith was born in Derby in 1752 and was apprenticed initially to a linen draper. He began painting miniatures and scraped his first mezzotint in 1769, eventually becoming the most celebrated engraver of the period.

On abandoning mezzotint engraving in 1802, Smith devoted himself exclusively to portraiture in pastel. This provided him with a lucrative practise, drawing some forty sitters a week at two guineas a head. Even when he increased his prices to eight guineas there was no fall in demand.

His patrons included prominent Whigs such as the Duke of Bedford, Lord Holland and Sir Francis Burdett. Smith's portraits of Fox are considered to be amongst the finest of these. When exhibited at the Academy of 1802, it was described by the Library of the Fine Arts, as at once simple and dignified; in action easy and natural, and in resemblance perhaps the most perfect that has appeared.

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500 Years of British Art