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Smith alias Buckhorse

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1848,0911.165

  • Title (object)

    • Smith alias Buckhorse
  • Description

    Bald headed man in profile to left; the artist's father (?); later state with added title; third state with inscription, copy in reverse after Rembrandt. 1747 Etching

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1747
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 90 millimetres (trimmed)
    • Width: 69 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered below image: "Hogarth pinx." and "Smith alias Buckhorse, 1747 / the Noted Bruiser".
  • Curator's comments

    This is a later state lettered with the name of the famous prize fighter John Smith, known as 'Buckhorse'; for another impression see 1932,1207.25; for proof impressions see 1848,0911.164 and F,6.80. White+Boon describes this plate twice: as a copy in reverse after Rembrandt's etching (White+Boon 292, copy 4) and under prints by an unknown pupil of Rembrandt (White+Boon 293).

    This plate is an eighteenth-century spoof, a copy in reverse after Rembrandt etching made by Benjamin Wilson in order to trick Rembrandt collectors into buying the impressions as genuine Rembrandt prints and thus exposing them as "first-rate connoisseurs".
    Wilson first did this with a landscape etching which was sold to Thomas Hudson by a Dutchman as a real Rembrandt. Wilson's friend William Hogarth later persuaded him to make another etching in the style of Rembrandt in order to fool the famous bookseller Samuel Harding. They then exposed the fraud at a dinner party during which they embarrassed Hudson in front of twenty-three artists by serving a beef sirloin decorated with multiple impressions of the print Hudson had bought earlier as a rare genuine Rembrandt. The BM holds two impressions of this print see S.418-419; a proof (of which he sold one impression to Hudson) and one lettered: "A proofprint from this plate, designed and etched by / B. Wilson was sold as a very fine Rembrandt / to one of the greatest Connoisseurs for Six / Shillings. the 17 April 1751".
    For other spoofs made by Wilson see also S.415-416.

    Lit.: R. Paulson, 'Hogarth III: Art and Politics 1750-1764', Cambridge, 1993, pp.36-41
    Wilson's own account of this and his other spoof (the coach landscape) is in his autobiography, see A. Graciano (ed.), 'The Memoirs of Benjamin Wilson, FRS: Painter and Electrical Scientist', in Walpole Society LXXIV (2012), pp.191-193.

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  • Bibliography

    • Hind 1923 23 (copy undescribed) bibliographic details
    • White & Boon 1969 292 (copy 4) bibliographic details
    • White & Boon 1969 293 ('Prints by unknown pupils of Rembrandt') bibliographic details
    • Hind 1923 349 (Rejected as Rembrandt) bibliographic details
    • New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 62 (Rembrandt; copy e.III) bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1848

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1848,0911.165

Bald headed man in profile to left; the artist's father (?); later state with added title; copy in reverse after Rembrandt.  c.1747 Etching

Recto

Bald headed man in profile to left; the artist's father (?); later state with added title; copy in reverse after Rembrandt. c.1747 Etching

Image description

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