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Home> News> Famous Doncastrians>

Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: John Raphael Smith

British painter who lived his twilight years in Doncaster.
John Raphael Smith (1751–1812) was a British painter, son of landscape painter Thomas Smith of Derby.

After a brief education at Derby Grammar School he moved to London and after dabbling in miniaturism he struck gold with his mezzotints. He worked with the Royal Academy master Joshua Reynolds and Smith's mezzotints of Mrs Carnac (1778) and Lieutenant-Colonel Banastre Tarleton (1782) are outstanding examples of famous Georgians.

Smith became a London publisher from 1781, including among his clients the radical writer and artist William Blake. He was a prolific mentor of apprentices, including J. M. W. Turner, Charles H. Hodges, William Ward, Thomas Girtin and James Ward, who were among his registered pupils.

By 1798 he had listed over 302 publications in addition to his prints, and painted subject-pictures such as the Unsuspecting Maid, Inattention and the Moralist, exhibiting in the Royal Academy from 1779 to 1790.

Upon the decline of his business as a printseller he made a tour through the north and midland counties of England, producing much hasty and indifferent work, and eventually settled in Doncaster. One critic complained of his pastel portraits that he had finished one in underan hour. He was ailing at this point and suffered from deafness.

He died at his home here after an asthmatic attack, in Baxtergate on the 2nd March 1812, and was buried in Doncaster Minster churchyard.


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