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 print seller 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.
Full publication information: John Smith, Lyon & Crown, Russell Street, Covent Garden, London
Condition: Generally good with the usual toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. Sheet trimmed to image on sides and top as is often the case with separately issued old master prints Rebacked by paper conservator, extending margins, and to stabilize and restore various scattered, mostly marginal chips, tears, etc.
“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).
“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).