- Museum number
Self-portrait; half-length seated turned r, head turned to front, wearing dark broad brimmed hat
Black chalk with red and white chalk on grey paper
- Production date
Height: 257 millimetres
Width: 186 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The following text is from S. Lloyd and K. Sloan, 'The Intimate Portrait' (exh. SNPG & BM, 2008-9), cat. no. 59:
John Raphael Smith was the son of Thomas Smith of Derby, a landscape painter, engraver and printseller, from whom he inherited a small collection of prints. The sale after his own death contained more than 3,000 items; he was a prolific engraver and printseller, as well as a collector of works by his contemporaries and dealer in Old Master prints. He was a very accomplished portraitist in pastels exhibiting several through the years at the Society of Artists and the RA and a series of chalk and pastel self-portraits record various stages in his career.
The present drawing was acquired as a portrait of Smith by George Morland. Smith made a small fortune from mezzotint and stipple reproductions of his friend Morland's extremely popular rustic scenes. Smith invented a Hogarthian narrative series, 'Laetitia', for Morland to execute and issued a series of stipple engravings after the paintings in 1789; four years later he opened a successful Morland Gallery at his shop in Covent Garden. Smith painted a portrait of his friend and engraved it as a frontispiece to a collection of his works. Certainly there is a superficial resemblance of the present work to Morland's drawing style, but comparison with Smith's own self-portrait series confirms this is one of them both in drawing style, medium and above all, because it bears all the hallmarks of what we have come to recognize as a self-portrait drawing.
The earliest self-portrait is also in the BM (1869,1224.603.1842) and shows him wearing a hat, seated at a table drawing and looking over his shoulder, as he is here. It has been dated by D'Oench to around 1774-5 on the basis of his apparent age. It was swiftly drawn and is relatively unfinished like the present work, and although he attempted a mezzotint after it (unfinished proof, with coloured chalks, 1872,0112.894), both seem to be personal, introspective drawings, in the manner of Jonathan Richardson's series, rather than public statements. Other portraits in the series were, however, for a wider audience. One finished pastel (with Leggatt in 1914), perhaps slightly earlier than the present drawing, shows him without a hat and holding what appears to be a small framed drawing rather than print. Two others record him at a later date: an oil painting showing him with brushes (Usher A.G., Lincoln) and a pastel of c. 1808 (NPG). The latter may have been largely for the use of Chantry when the sculptor was working on his bust of Smith in 1811 (Ashmolean; 1825 marble version in V&A). A number of portraits of Smith by other artists, including Girtin, Morland and Rowlandson (BM) are listed by D'Oench (2000, p. 106). From his appearance in the present drawing, it might be dated roughly between 1790 and 1800.
This work was formerly attributed to George Morland to whom the Binyon number refers.
SELECTED LITERATURE: LB 1 (as Morland); E.G. D'Oench, 'Copper into Gold', New Haven and London, 1999, p.281, n.123; E.G. D'Oench, "Prints Drawings and a Turner in John Raphael Smith's Will", in 'Print Quarterly', vol. 17, no.4, 2000, no.4, pp.381-3; E.G. D'Oench, 'John Raphael Smith', Oxford DNB
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.171
2008/9 Oct-Jan, Edinburgh, SNPG, 'The Intimate Portrait', no. 59
2009 Mar-May, London, BM, Room 90, 'The Intimate Portrait', no. 59
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number