J. R. SMITH after Sir Joshua Reynolds
11 x 15 inches
A half-length mezzotint portrait of Theophilia Palmer engraved by J. R. Smith after the painting by Reynolds, published in London in 1777.
Theophilia Palmer was the niece of Joshua Reynolds; the second daughter of Reynolds's sister Mary and her husband John Palmer. In a letter Maria Edgworth describes her thus: "she has been very pretty and thou deaf is very agreeable and good natured.....affectionately fond of her uncle". This affection appears to have been rewarded because in his will Reynolds left her the princely sum of £10,000! John Raphael Smith was born in Derby in 1752, the youngest son of the landscape painter, Thomas Smith, who was known as ‘Smith of Derby’. He travelled to London at the time of his father’s death in 1767 and after a period of shop work began his career as an artist. He began work as a painter of both miniatures and larger scale paintings but went on to develop his skill as an engraver. In 1781 he moved to a studio in Oxford Street and by 1784 he had been appointed as mezzotint engraver to the Prince of Wales. By 1787 he had settled permanently in Covent Garden, until his death in Doncaster in 1812. Smith’s engravings count amongst the most admired examples of mezzotint. He published after his own designs but also after other artists and engravers. Smith had a reputation for his agreeable manners and his willingness to share his knowledge of art.