bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7 cms) inscr. on plate b.l. "G. Schalcken pinx."; inscr. on plate b.r. "I. Smith excud"; inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "81" CRE SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) PUB SMITH, John; (English; 1652-1743) AFTER SCHALCKEN, Godfried (Dutch; 1643-1706) 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. 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.
Smith engraved and published this print after a work by Dutch painter Godfried Schalcken, active in England, who had developed an international reputation for his ability to render candlelight in his paintings. Smith engraved a number of candlelit figures in mezzotint which lent itself particularly well to the recreating the chiaroscuro effects of such light.