Smith, John, Engraver (1652-1743)

A pioneer of the mezzotint process. Born in Northampton, he moved to London to become a printer’s apprentice. He turned his attention to mezzotint engraving and became the pupil of Jan Van der Vaart. In the first nine years of his career Smith worked for five publishers: Richard Palmer, Edward CooperAlexander BrownePierce Tempest and Isaac Beckett. He began publishing for himself in 1687, and from 1692 worked only for himself. When Beckett died in 1688, Smith inherited his position as chief engraver to Godfrey Kneller. He engraved over a hundred plates after Kneller’s portraits, giving him access to prominent members of society, who became customers.

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