bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7 cms) inscr. on plate b.l. "O"; inscr. on plate b.r. "C"; inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "98" CRE UNKNOWN (17th century) PUB SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) AFTER LELY, Peter, Sir; (Dutch; British; 1618-1680) Part of William Hunter's original bequest, this is one of three volumes which together contain 488 mezzotints, almost all made or published by John Smith. About two thirds are portraits of eminent late Stuart, early Hanoverian persons. The remaining third are subject prints after a wide range of artists and subjects, from mythological and religious scenes after old Italian and Dutch and Flemish masters such as Titian and Rubens to fancy subjects after contemporary French and English painters.
Instrumental in raising the standard of mezzotint portraits, Smith was the first British printmaker to gain a European reputation, and examples of his work were essential for any serious first half of the 18th century European print collection. Hunter's set of volumes is a rare surviving example of a comprehensive collection of mezzotints compiled in the 1730s.
There is no engravers' signature on this print and Smith's involvement with its production is not certain. He did acquire and republish many mezzotint plates from his contemporaries and include them in collections such as this to give context to his own work. This depiction of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. Parliamentary leader in the Civil War, is believed to be after Peter Lely, leading portrait painter of his day. It is included in a small group of miscellaneous portraits inserted at the back of volume three.