Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait drawing of John Dighton (1793-1810), wearing blue jacket with brass buttons over yellow waistcoat and white cravat, the portrait set into a drawn surround 

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait drawing of John Dighton (1793-1810), wearing blue jacket with brass buttons over yellow waistcoat and white cravat, the portrait set into a drawn surround, John Smart
Rectangular, 120 x 106 mm. (4 ĺ x 4 3/16 in.)
The artist; His widow, Mary Morton; By family descent to Mrs Lilian Dyer (Smartís great granddaughter) by whom sold; Christies, London, 26 November 1937, lot 61; Bought from above by Agnews £5.10s.; Karin Henninger-Tavcar, 1997; Private Collection, Germany.
Foskett, 1964, p.45, 89.
As noted on the drawingís inscription, the sitter was the grandson of John Smart. Born in 1793, he was the son of Smartís daughter Sophia (1770-1793) and John Dighton (1761-1840).[1] John was already resident in Madras when Sophia arrived to join her father in 1788 , having entered the East India Service in 1778[2] as a cadet in the Madras Presidency Infantry. The couple married in 1790.

Smartís daughter Sophia died shortly after giving birth to their son. The baby was baptised, alongside his cousin Maria Woolf, at St. Maryís Church, Fort St. George, on 24 May 1794.

The child was brought back to England by his aunt, Smartís eldest daughter Anna Maria Woolf, in October 1794. As Daphne Foskett writes, Anna Maria travelled with Ďfour of her children, Anna Sophia, Elizabeth Anne, Anna Carolina, and Maria, together with her nephew, John Dighton, and two maids, a black girl called Matilda, and Rebecca Jones with her infant son of nine months.í[3] It can be assumed that John was adopted by his aunt and raised alongside his cousins. Johnís father remained in Madras, marrying a further four times.

Another portrait of his grandson, drawn at the age of 11, was sold in the same sale as this drawing by Smartís great granddaughter Lilian Dyer. John followed his fatherís career, joining the Madras Army as a cadet, but he never made it to India again, dying on the voyage at the age of seventeen. This portrait must have been much treasured by Smart as a reminder of his daughter and grandson who both died so tragically young.

[1] A portrait of the sitterís father, John Dighton, was drawn by Smart in 1791 (now at
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.4.938)). See P. Noon, English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures, New Haven (CT.), 1979, no. 60, illustrated p. 54). Sophia, the sitterís mother, was also drawn by Smart in that year (sold Sothebyís, London, 19th October 1981).
[2] Foskett, 1964, p.16; Foskett notes that the Court Minutes of December 1788 granted Sophia permission to go to India to join her father.
[3] Ibid p.21.

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