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G & J Smith of Chichester

13 Sep

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George & John Smith of Chichester - Pastoral Scene with Grazing Sheep - 1770
Etching - image 12.4 x 19.4 cm - trimmed to just outside platemark
Good condition - from 'A Collection of 53 prints'
Unframed - Price: £55

GEORGE (1714-76)  and JOHN (1717-1764) SMITH OF CHICHESTER  were, like Sandby, two of the few 18th century British landscape artists who made more sustained efforts in etching. Both brothers practiced painting and George is regarded as the more gifted of the two. In their day, George’s paintings were much admired, his reputation extending to the continent. In 1760 George won first prize for a landscape at the Society of Arts, and again in 1761 and 1763. Many of his works were engraved by leading engravers, including a series of twenty seven plates from his pictures with the title Picturesque Scenery of England and Wales published between 1757 and 1769. He was a good cello player and he wrote poetry. However history was not so kind. After his death his reputation went into decline and then obscurity until being revived in 1980 with a seminal exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.

 John was George’s pupil and often assisted on George’s canvases. He too won a prize for a landscape at the Society of Arts, in 1762, the year George was not exhibiting! Their style derives ultimately from the manner of Claude Lorrain though with Netherland-ish overtones. This is perhaps best seen in the etchings they made together. Based on their own landscapes and some copies from the Old Masters this is known as A Collection of Fifty Three Prints. The collection was published by the renowned John Boydell in 1770. The images are all of modest scale in landscape format and many have been enhanced through a touch of engraving.

 The Smith’s quality of etching is uneven and some critics have described them as mundane, but at their best, they have their own charm and sensibility. This rural view of a shepherd and his flock set by a river is delightful and epitomises their particularly English style.

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