John Smart

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John Smart bigraphy, stories - British artist

John Smart : biography

1740 – 1811

John Smart (painter) (c. 1740–1811), was an English painter of portrait miniatures. He was a contemporary of Richard Cosway, George Engleheart, William Wood and Richard Crosse.

Examples of Smart’s work

Image:John Smart – Portrait of Unknown Man – Dated 1767 – Victoria & Albert Museum.jpg|John Smart – Portrait of Unknown Man – Dated 1767 – Victoria & Albert Museum Image:John Smart – Portrait of the Hon Miss Eliza Booth – Dated 1766 – Victoria & Albert Museum.jpg|Portrait of the Hon Miss Eliza Booth – Dated 1766 – Victoria & Albert Museum Image:John Smart – Portrait of Unknown Woman – Dated 1779 – Victoria & Albert Museum.jpg|John Smart – Portrait of Unknown Woman – Dated 1779 – Victoria & Albert Museum Image:John Smart – Portrait of Unknown Woman – Dated 1780 – Victoria & Albert Museum.jpg|John Smart – Portrait of Unknown Woman – Dated 1780 – Victoria & Albert Museum Image:John Smart – Portrait of a Member of the Tayler Family – Dated 1787 – Victoria & Albert Museum.jpg|John Smart – Portrait of a Member of the Tayler Family – Dated 1787 – Frame with bracelet fitting – Victoria & Albert Museum Image:Sir-robert-brooke-st-helena.jpg|Sir Robert Brooke probably c.1788, by John Smart Image:Watercolor on ivory portrait miniature of a lady by John Smart, 1782, 5.1 x 4.1 cm, Cincinnati Art Museum.jpg|Watercolor on ivory portrait miniature of a lady by John Smart, 1782, 5.1 x 4.1 cm, Cincinnati Art Museum

Work

Smart mainly painted watercolour miniatures on ivory, and often clearly signed and dated his work. A number of his preparatory drawings and sketches survive.

His work is entirely different from that of Cosway, quiet and grey in its colouring, with the flesh tints elaborated with much subtlety and modelled in exquisite fashion. He possessed a great knowledge of anatomy, and his portraits are drawn with greater anatomical accuracy and possess more distinction than those of any miniature painter of his time.

Many of his pencil drawings still exist in the possession of the descendants of a great friend of his only sister. Several of his miniatures are in Australia and belong to a cadet branch of the family.

Biography

Smart was born in Norfolk, but not much is known of his early life. It is recorded that in 1755 he was runner up to Richard Cosway in a drawing competition for under-14s held by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. In the same year he began attending the new drawing school of William Shipley in London, along with Cosway and Richard Crosse.

He exhibited at the Society of Artists, in London, from 1762 onwards; and became its president in 1778. He went to India in 1788 and obtained a number of commissions in that country. He settled down in London in 1797, and died there in 1811.

He was a man of simple habits, and a member of the Society of Sandemanians.

Personal life

Smart married Edith Vere, and is believed to have had only one son, who died in Madras in 1809.