SMIRKE, After Robert (1752-1845)
Conjugal Affection From the Original Picture presented to the City by Aldn. Boydell. To their most excellent Majesties King George III, & Queen Charlotte. This Print is most humbly Dedicated by their most Dutiful and Loyal Subject Jno. [sic.] Boydell
London: J. & J. Boydell, 29 September 1799. Stipple engraving, printed in colours and finished by hand, by Robert Thew (3 inch expertly repaired tear to upper margin touching the image area). Image size (including text): 17 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches. Sheet size: 19 7/16 x 24 3/4 inches.
A fine colour-printed stipple-engraving, dedicated to the King and Queen whose tranquil domestic life was a by-word in late 18th century England.
Robert Smirke (1752-1845) was the son of a clever but eccentric travelling artist, was born at Wigton, near Carlisle, in 1752. He was brought to London by his father in 1766, and apprenticed to a coach-painter named Bromley. In 1772 he became a student of the Royal Academy, and in 1775 a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists. In 1804 he was elected to succeed Joseph Wilton as keeper of the Royal Academy, but George III refused to confirm the appointment, possibly through fear of the influence on the students of the artist's freely expressed revolutionary opinions. His last contribution to the academy, entitled Infancy, appeared in 1813, but he continued to exhibit occasionally elsewhere until 1834.... His works are characterised by good drawing, refinement, and quiet humour... Smirke painted also some pictures for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, and for Bowyer's History of England.... In the Guildhall, London, is a picture by him representing Conjugal Affection, or Industry and Prudence' (DNB). Robert Thew (1758-1802) "...for a time followed the trade of a cooper; but, possessing great natural abilities, he invented an ingenious camera obscura, and later took up engraving, in which art, although entirely self-taught, he attained a high degree of excellence. In 1783 he went to Hull, where he resided for a few years, engraving at first shop-bills and tradesmen's cards. His earliest work of a higher class was a portrait of Harry Rowe..., and in 1786 he etched and published a pair of views of the new dock at Hull... Having executed a good plate of a woman's head after Gerard Dou, he obtained from the Marquis of Carmarthen an introduction to John Boydell, for whose large edition of Shakespeare he engraved in the dot manner twenty-two plates... He held the appointment of historical engraver to the Prince of Wales..." (DNB).