John Raphael Smith, Mrs Carnac, a mezzotint after a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Published in London, England, AD 1778

Elizabeth Carnac (1751-80), daughter of Thomas Rivett MP, married John Carnac in 1769. He was a brigadier-general in the service of the East India Company. The painting is in the Wallace Collection.

The reputation of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), depended in part on his stature as president of Royal Academy but was sustained by a very large body of engravings of his paintings which brought knowledge of his work to admirers throughout Europe. He was particularly well respected for his treatment of women and children. His engravers were skilful in faithfully rendering the design and texture of Reynolds's original and sometimes flattered the painter by silently improving the quality of Reynolds's indifferent anatomical drawing.

John Raphael Smith (1752-1812) was foremost among mezzotint engravers of his generation. The delicately speckled surface suggests broken light through leaves. The dark brown rather than black ink also brings warmth to the image. This plate very highly thought of at the time and even more in the late nineteenth century when Georgian society portraits were the height of fashion. In 1901 an impression of Mrs Carnac sold for the huge sum of 1,160 guineas.

This proof impression once belonged to the painter Sir Thomas Lawrence.

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More information


E. D'Oench, Copper into gold: prints by Jo (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1999)

A. Griffiths, Prints and printmaking: an int, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

T. Clayton, The English print, 1688-1802 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1997)

A. Griffiths (ed.), Landmarks in print collecting (London, The British Museum Press)


Height: 598.000 mm
Width: 385.000 mm (trimmed inside the platemark)

Museum number

PD 1830-6-12-2



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