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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Smith

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

Contents Foreword Introduction Catalogue scope Abbreviations Arrangement of entries

George Smith (1713-76)

Landscape painter; second and most gifted of three brothers known as 'the Smiths of Chichester'; studied under his brother William (1707-64), patronised by the Duke of Richmond, admired for his landscapes both at home and abroad; received, 1760, the Society of Arts first premium for a landscape, and again in 1761 and 1763; a series of twenty-seven plates from Picturesque Scenery of England and Wales published 1757-69; a set of fifty-three etchings and engravings, produced with his brother John (1717-64) after their own works, appeared 1770; a volume of poems, Pastorals, published 1770.

4117 (with his brother John). By themselves
Oil on canvas, 24 3/4 x 29 5/8 in. (629 x 752 mm). Seated figure: brown wig, black hat edged with gold lace, vermilion coat with blue collar, white gold-trimmed waistcoat, yellow breeches, white stockings, black shoes. Standing figure: brown wig, lavender coat with green collar, lemon waistcoat, green breeches, white stockings; in a landscape of rocks, trees, a river at their feet, pale grey mountains in the distance with blue sky shading through grey to pinkish-yellow, right.

Inscribed in a contemporary hand, [1] bottom left: George & John Smith / of Chichester / painted by themselves.

A small picture in identical pose, with the Leicester Galleries, 1929; as Gainsborough and Thicknesse, shows a different landscape background with a large tree (oak?) left, and a castle on a mound, right. A cruder version of NPG 4117 was sold at Sotheby's, 23 March 1966, lot 103. On the evidence of the engraving by Woollett (seeIconography below), the standing figure is likely to be George. A portrait of the Smith brothers by themselves was bequeathed by James Lambert (1741-99) of Lewes to Lieutenant Samuel Baker of the Royal Artillery, stationed at Brighton. [2] The subsequent history of the painting, and whether it relates to NPG 4117, is not known.

Condition:minute repairs to both faces; retouching to coat of seated figure and hairline cracks between him and waterfall, touched in.

Collections:bought 1959 from the Leger Galleries, the purchasers at Sotheby's, 22 July 1959, lot 57; at Christie's, 3 July 1880, lot 89, from the collection of George Smith, [3] Paddockhurst, Crawley; intervening history not known.

Exhibited:'British Self-Portraits', Arts Council, 1962 (24).


An engraving by William Woollett after George Smith's landscape which includes the three brothers in a pastoral scene, is lettered The Original Picture from which this Print was taken in the year 1760 obtained the First Premium granted by the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts. [4]The standing figure, as in NPG 4117, holds a paper which is here inscribed Pastorals, a reference no doubt to George's talents as a poet. [5] A version was sold at Christie's, 14 December 1962, lot 138. A painting with John Mitchell of New Bond Street in June 1965 was perhaps the original. [6] A portrait of the three brothers by William Pether is now known only by his mezzotint, published 1765. An 'old oil painting', apparently related to the mezzotint, was auctioned with other property of W.H.B.Fletcher of Aldwick Manor, Sussex, in August 1941. [7]


1. Tests made by Miss J. Plesters, National Gallery.
2. W.H. Challen, ‘Baldy's Garden, the Painters Lambert, and other Sussex Families', Sussex Archaeological Collections, XC, p.130.
3. Not apparently related.
4. Society of Artists, 1760 (58); John Smith's landscape (60) won second prize. Besides Woollett and other able artists, Smith's works were largely engraved by Elliott, Peake and Vivares.
5. A volume of his Pastorals appeared 1770.
6. Connoisseur, CLIX, 1965, reproduced p.133.
7. L.F. Salzman, correcting footnote to Challen's article, loc. cit.