Smith, John

, pronounced by Mr. Walpole (since lord Orford) to be the best mezzotinter that has appeared, was certainly a genius of singular merit, who united softness with strength, and finishing with freedom. He flourished towards the end of king William’s reign, but of his life lit' tie is known, except that he served his time with one Tillet, a painter, in Moor-fields; and that as soon as he became his own master, he applied to Becket, and learned the secret of mezzotinto. Being further instructed by Vander Vaart, he was taken to work in the house of sir Godfrey Kneller; and, as he was to be the publisher of that master’s works, no doubt he received considerable hints from him, wh,tch he amply repaid. “To posterity, perhaps,” says lord Orford, “his prints will carry an idea of something burlesque; perukes of outrageous length flowing over suits of armour, compose wonderful habits. It is equally strange that fashion could introduce the one, and establish the practice of representing the other, when it was out of fashion. Smith excelled in exhibiting both, as he found them in the portraits of Kneller.” Lord Orford and Mr. Strutt have given a list of his best works, and the latter an instance of avarice not much to his credit. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes. —Strutt’s Dictionary.