Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait drawing of an unknown Gentleman, wearing stock, his wig pink-powdered 

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait drawing of an unknown Gentleman, wearing stock, his wig pink-powdered, John Smart
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Pencil and watercolour on paper
 
Provenance:
Karin Henninger-Tavcar; Private Collection, Germany.
John Smart showed talent as an artist at an early age. In 1755, at the age of thirteen, he began to enter pencil and chalk drawings for prizes at the Society of Arts. After coming second to Richard Cosway in the first competition he went on to secure first prize in the following three. The eighteenth century was a highly prosperous period for the miniature painter, and witnessed the success of Cosway and Engleheart to name just two.

Smartís miniatures were markedly different from those of his peers and show a degree of meticulous draughtsmanship which was to form the basis for all that he did. The present work was drawn by Smart during the 1770s as a preparatory sketch for a finished portrait miniature on ivory (whereabouts unknown). It was usual practice for Smart to use such drawings, but the survival of so many demonstrates that they were prized as works of art in their own right. It is possible that Smart turned to drawing the sitter first as hours of work would have gone into his highly finished works of ivory and this may have tested the patience of his client. The pink-tinged powder used on this gentlemanís wig appears to have been a short-lived fashion.

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