William Smith, the printseller (Biographical details)

William Smith, the printseller (dealer/auction house; collector; British; Male; 1808 - 1876)

Also known as

Smith, William; W & G Smith; Smith, W & G; Messrs Smith


Lisle Street, London


Print dealer, son of his father of the same name who ran a business in Lisle Street, north of Leicester Square. He and his brother George (q.v.) took over the business on their father's sudden death in 1835, and ran it as a partnership under the name W & G Smith. The major supplier to the BM between 1836 and 1848: Sheepshanks collection in 1836, Georg Friedrich Schmidt in 1838, Cornelis and Johannes Visscher in 1839 (see 1839,0413.155 to 424, his catalogue of the latter was published in 1864). In 1845 they sold two major collections of early prints to the BM: one of 1757 Northern prints for £2,880 (1845,0809.1 to 1757), the other of Italian prints for £4,875 (1845,0825.1 to 829). The brothers retired from the business in 1848. The BM purchased selections of their stock and the remaining stock was sold at four auctions. In 1850 gave his sale catalogues to P&D, and in 1851 his large collection of caricatures of the reign of George III (1851,0901.1 to 1398). Trustee (later Deputy Chairman) of the National Portrait Gallery from 1856 until his death, when he bequeathed his collection of English watercolours to the V&A and the National Gallery of Ireland.


Antony Griffiths in 'Landmarks in Print Collecting', BMP 1996, pp.90-101
Sale Sotheby's 7 May and 3 December 1849, and 13 May 1850