bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7 cms) inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "77" CRE 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. 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.
There are no maker or publisher signatures on this print, perhaps a proof before letters, and Smith's involvement with its production is not certain. He is known to have bought many mezzotint plates by his predecessors and contemporaries, republished them and included them in volumes such as this, providing context to his own work. This print is one of a handful in the volume depicting unidentified women and / or children in palatial settings (Glaha 16672, 16690, 16691).