bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7) title inscr. on plate b.c. "The Right Honourainscr. on plate b.l.e Bessey Countess of Rochford"; inscr. on plate b.l. "Char: D'Agar pinx."; s. on plate b.r. "J. Smith Fec & ex 1723." CRE SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) AFTER AGAR, Jacques d'; (French; 1640-1715) PUB SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) 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, and one third fancy and mythological subjects.
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 early to mid 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.
Bessy Savage was the wife of the third Earl of Rochford, Frederick van Nassau van Zuylestein, a landowner associated with whig politics. Zuylestein's Dutch father had come to England with William III and was made Earl for his part fighting against France in the Low Countries. Bessy's portrait was painted by French portrait painter Charles d'Agar who settled in London. This print after it is positioned in a group of portraits of duchesses and countesses in volume two.