Drawn To Perfection
John Smart is widely renowned for his jewel-like portrait miniatures and compelling portrayals of fashionable sitters. Drawn to Perfection: Portraits by John Smart presents a number of John Smart's preparatory sketches alongside his exquisite finished miniature portraits, offering a glimpse into the evolution of his technique over the course of his career.
Drawing served as the foundation upon which Smart built his artistic expertise and, at the outset of his career, he established a robust routine that differed from his fellow miniaturists. Smart produced highly detailed sketches of his sitters as a preliminary stage in painting their portraits, which he then used to work up his final portrait miniatures. These drawings were retained by the artist, functioning as a comprehensive visual record of his output and aiding the production of further versions if ever required. They were pasted into large albums and were often inscribed on the reverse with colour notes and the sitter’s name.
Smart’s preparatory drawings, originally conceived for private purposes, were later extracted from the albums by Smart’s descendants and sold in the 1930s. Since then, they have become highly coveted by collectors and examples can be found in private and public collections around the world.
This focused display offers a rare opportunity to compare Smart's preparatory drawings with his finished miniatures and sheds further light on his meticulous creative process.