|J. M. W. Turner by Smith|
He worked for several years as a drawing master, but eventually his love of London and its history, caused him to draw and engrave its sights and vanishing scenes, and publish them. His most-remembered books all celebrated the city.
"Antiquities of London and its Environs" began publication in 1791. "Antiquities of Westminster" followed in 1807, and "Ancient Topography of London" in 1815. The antiquities he recorded in the Westminster book were literally destroyed shortly after he had sketched them. We know of those items only through his work.
In 1816, he was appointed Keeper of the Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, a position he held for many years. It allowed him time and opportunity to pursue his art and continue with his publications.
|A blind beggar by Smith|
Smith's best known publication today is his "Cries of London", showing the street sellers of the city, and their recording their famous 'cries'. It was published, in 1839, after Smith's death, and is essentially a sequel to "Vagabondiana".
|John Thomas 'Antiquity' Smith|
'Antiquity' Smith married Anne Marie Pickett at age 22 and left her a widow forty-five years later. They had three children, two daughters and a son. Mr. Smith was remembered as a kindly, supportive man. He aided young artists who asked his advice, praising, and criticizing, with honest tact. He wrote of himself:
“I can boast of seven events, some of which great men would be proud of. I received a kiss when a boy from the beautiful Mrs. Robinson,—was patted on the head by Dr. Johnson,—have frequently held Sir Joshua Reynolds’s spectacles,—partook of a pot of porter with an elephant,—saved Lady Hamilton from falling when the melancholy news arrived of Lord Nelson’s death,—three times conversed with King George the Third,—and was shut up in a room with Mr. Kean’s lion.”What more could one ask of a Regency/Georgian life?
Next week, guest blogger and award-winning Regency romance author Barbara Monajem will be visiting to discuss the Caricature in the Regency. I hope you can join us.
'Til next time,