bound volume (dimensions 54 x 38 x 7 cms) inscr. on page t.r. hand-written in brown ink "81" CRE VAILLANT, Wallerant; (Flemish; 1623-1677) AFTER NETSCHER, Caspar; (Dutch; 1639-1684) 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.
This print was made by Dutch painter and pioneer mezzotinter Wallerant Vaillant. There are three prints by him inserted in the volume, providing a context for Smith's own mezzotints. This sleeping child is among several prints of cupid and putti in the volume and for which there was obviously a considerable popular market at the time. It is after a work by Caspar Netscher, a successful and prolific 17th century Dutch painter.