bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7 cms) inscr. on plate b.l. "Robinson fecit."; inscr. on plate b.r. "J. Smith, ex:"; inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "54" CRE ROBINSON, Robert; (English; fl. 1674-1706) PUB SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) AFTER BARLOW, Francis; (English; 1626-1702)? 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.
Robert Robinson, an English contemporary of Smith's, made around 50 small scale mezzotints in a distinctive and decorative style. 17 are included in this volume, providing a context for Smith's own mezzotints. Small prints depicting birds and animals were popular and there are several scattered through the volume.