bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7 cms) inscr. on plate b.c. "Venus & Adonis"; inscr. on plate b.l. "Mrs Ann Killegrew pinx: B Lens fe:"; inscr. on plate b.r. "Printed & Sold by Iohn King at the Globe in the Poultrey London."; inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "26" CRE LENS, Bernard II; (English; 1659-1725) PUB KING, John; (English; fl. 1702-1746) AFTER KILLIGREW, Anne, Mrs; (English; c.1660-c.1685) 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.
This is one of almost 40 prints in the volume by, or attributed to, Bernard Lens II, who, like Smith, was a pioneering mezzotint engraver. They give a context to Smith's own prints. The Roman goddess Venus is seen pleading with her lover Adonis not to go hunting, shortly before her fears are realised and he is killed by a wild boar. (See also Glaha 16632 and 16641).