Sir Godfrey Kneller was a German-born painter and draftsman who moved to England. He was the greatest master of the English baroque portrait. As Court painter to four sovereigns, he dominated English art for more than thirty years. He was also founding governor of the first art academy in England. He popularized the 36″ x 28″ format that he used for his portraits of members of the Kit-Cat Club (a social and political organization of London’s intelligentsia in the early 18th century) and it became known as the “kit-cat.” Until then, the reigning standards were 30″ x 25″ (bust length) and 50″ x 40″ (three-quarter length) — the “kit-cat” allowed the artist to include not just the bust but the hands in a life-size portrait.
John Smith was an English mezzotint engraver and printseller. Early in his career, he collaborated with other publishers, but before 1700 he set up shop as a printseller and publisher at the “Lyon & Crown” in Russell Street, London. His output included plates for public sale, private commissions, and prints from existing plates by other engravers which he acquired and retouched.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. Some minor scattered foxing. A rich impression. Sheet trimmed close to image on sides and top, still leaving platemark, as is often the case with separately issued 18th-century mezzotint portraits.
“Elizabeth Southwell, née Cromwell, Lady Cromwell.” National Portrait Gallery, London. 2009. http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?search=ss&sText=elizabeth+cromwell&LinkID=mp51655 (3 June 2010).
“Godfrey Kneller.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/04/0469/T046946.asp (7 October 2002).
“Lady Elizabeth Cromwell as Saint Cecilia.” Victorian Web. 23 November 2006. http://victorianweb.org/painting/18c/kneller1.html (3 June 2010).
“John Smith.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/07/0793/T079317.asp (7 October 2002).
“Welcome.” Down High School. http://www.downhighschoolni.freeserve.co.uk/welcome.htm (14 October 2002).