bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 6) inscr. on plate below image "Jacobus Secundus Dei Gratia Angliae, / Scotiae Franciae, et Hiberiae Rex. &ct."; inscr. on plate b.l. "N. De Largillierre Pinxit" and "I. Smith fecit"; inscr. on plate b.c. "Cum Privilegio Regis"; inscr. on plate b.r. "Sold by Alex Browne at the Blen / Ballcony in little queen street."; inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "12" CRE SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) AFTER LARGILLIERE, Nicolas de; (French; 1656-1746) PUB BROWNE, Alexander; (English; active 1659-1706) 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.
James II of the Stuart dynasty reigned from 1685 until the invasion of William of Orange in 1688 when he fled to France. His portrait was painted by Largillierre who enjoyed a successful career as a portrait painter in Paris. Smith created a set of Royal portraits covering the Stuart and Hanoverian dynasties up to George II. His teacher Beckett, engraved a smaller, reversed version of this portrait and this is included in the second volume.