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John Smeaton

(1724-1792), Civil engineer

Sitter in 3 portraits
The first of the great engineers. He built harbours, bridges and lighthouses and made notable improvements in the design of water-wheels. He also undertook important experiments on the atmospheric steam-engine.

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John Smeaton, by George Romney, after  Rhodes - NPG 80

John Smeaton

by George Romney, after Rhodes
oil on canvas, 1779 (circa 1779)
NPG 80

Web image not currently available

John Smeaton

by Miss Ickusch, after Thomas Gainsborough
lithograph, (1783)
NPG D41731

Web image not currently available

John Smeaton

by Richard Woodman, published by Charles Knight, after a painting attributed to John Hamilton Mortimer
stipple engraving, early 19th century
NPG D41730

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Prof Robin Marshall FRS

24 August 2015, 20:28

The 3rd portrait you mention here, an engraving by Richard Woodman, is attributed to Mortimer and it even says so on the print. However, this is a mistake and the painter was Mather Brown. John Smeaton's close friend Alexr Aubert FRS donated the painting to the Royal Society in 1799, seven years after Smeaton's fatal accident. The Royal Society has the letter that accompanied the donation and in the letter is says that the painting is by Mather Brown.

Publisher Charles Knight was always under heavy pressure and he just made a mistake when he typeset the attribution of the original painter on the print.

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