Self-Assured Gentleman

John Smart, Junior


Following the elopement of his first wife, miniaturist John Smart Sen. had a relationship with Sarah Midgeley and with her had two children: John born in 1776 and Sarah born in 1781. John Junior was nineteen years old when his father returned to London after working in India for ten years. Following in his father’s footsteps and having receiving instruction by him, John Junior also became a portrait painter even travelling to India in 1809. Sadly his career there was extremely short as he died four months after his arrival. It can only be imagined what he may have gone on to achieve.

Signed J.S.J. in the foliage bottom left and dated 1808, this half-length watercolour portrait was painted shortly before Smart Junior left England. Set against a landscape background, the portrait shows an assured looking gentleman with thick grey hair in a blue coat, yellow waistcoat and white stock. Regrettably the sitter’s name and story have been lost to history.

Painted on paper with a watercolour border and fresh to the market, the portrait resides in what appears to be the original pearwood frame. The condition of the portrait is fresh and clean but there is a mysterious little hole towards the bottom of the gentleman’s coat. There is no evidence of worm damage to the frame or backing board so the cause of the hole is unclear. A piece of dark paper has now been slipped behind it to minimise its appearance within the frame. There is also a small dark mark in the glass at 9 o’clock.

Item Ref. 6255

Size: framed, 189 x 161mm (7½ x 6¼")