John Raphael Smith

(c1751 - 1812)

John Raphael Smith produced a prodigious quantity of mezzotints, unparalleled in their mastery, over a forty-year career. He best known for reproducing the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and was appointed to the position of “Mezzotinto Engraver to the Prince of Wales” in 1784.

Between 1781 and 1802, Smith issued his own prints as well re-issuing those of others. He employed a number of print-makers, including William Blake and J. M. W. Turner, who did some hand-colouring. He opened the Morland Gallery in Covent Garden in 1793.

Smith also had an earthier side, and produced a number of satirical works, including a several series related to elegant, if disreputable, women, often published by Carington Bowles. His own love life was a bit complicated. “In 1780, he obtained a legal separation from his wife, Ann, on the grounds of her adultery, but he was barred from remarrying. Ann Smith lived until at least 1811. Emma Johnston was the mother of Smith’s next two surviving children: the artist Emma Smith (1783–1853), the mother of Julian, Lord Pauncefote, Britain’s first ambassador to the United States, and the artist and hostess Eliza Aders (1785–1857). From 1789 Smith lived with Hannah Croome (1757–1829), the mother of his last two surviving children. In his will, dated 12 January 1812, Smith bequeathed to Hannah Croome, ‘now living with me’, his personal estate” (Ellen G. D’Oench for DNB online).