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Thomas Smith (1699/1700–1744), his Family and an Unidentified Attendant

Robert West (b. Waterford, fl. 1735 - d. Dublin 1770)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1733 (signed and dated)

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

594 x 892 mm (23 3/8 x 35 1/8 in)

Place of origin

England

Order this image

Collection

Upton House, Warwickshire (Accredited Museum)

NT 446713

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Thomas Smith (1699/1700-1744), his Family and an Unidentified Attendant by Robert West (fl.1735 - d. Dublin 1770), signed and dated, in calligraphic script, bottom right: R. West fecit 1733. A group of full-length portraits in a panelled room with Thomas Smith seated left before a fireplace with his three sons round him; his wife stands at his left, wearing an embroidered dress, next to her is her eldest daughter, holding a baby and, at the right, at a circular tripod table are three girls, the eldest of whom is pouring out tea; an attendant stands at the extreme right with a kettle on a tripod stand. Little is known of Thomas Smith, but it is thought that he was French in origin and his original name was Le Fevre. We similarly know little about the artist, Robert West, except that he trained under Carle van Loo in Paris, and that in 1746 he established a drawing school in Dublin. He was renowned primarily for his red chalk drawings. Note on the Unidentified Attendant: It is not known if the attendant, who is of African descent, was included by the artist as a trope or as a portrait of a real individual.

Provenance

A damaged typed sheet of paper formerly attached to the back of the canvas claims that the picture was painted at Hadley, Middlesex, in 1735, and that it descended to Louisa Smith, one of the two daughters of Thomas Smith of Evesham, the son of the first Thomas Smith’s eldest son, John Smith. It is not known when it was acquired by the 2nd Viscount Bearsted, but the detailed typescript suggests that it was via a sale by private treaty; given with Upton House to the National Trust by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted (1882 – 1948), in 1948, shortly before his death.

Credit line

Upton House, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Recto: R. West fecit 1735 (signed and dated) Verso: on centre stretcher member: W. Freeman & Sons Ltd. / Picture Restorers / 43/44 Albemarle St London. W.1. / Tel 01-493-0365 / No 456 (F) Verso: on upper member, left to right: C.E.M.A. Exhibition / Exhibition British Conversation Pieces / Name of Artist Robert West (d.1770) / Owner The Viscount Bearsted / Title of Picture Thomas Smith and / his family / No 10;Ulster Museum, Belfast, BT9 5AB. / Irish Portraits 1660-1860 / Thomas Smith and his Family / by Robert West / Owner: The National Trust, Upton House, Banbury, Oxon. / 42; Leamington Spa Art Gallery / Art Treasures of Warwickshire Exhibition / May 29th-July 3rd, 1948 / No. / Lender Lord Bearsted / Description West. Le Fevre family – conversation piece / Value for insurance £200 Verso: on lower member: W. F. & S. No 456 (F)

Makers and roles

Robert West (b. Waterford, fl. 1735 - d. Dublin 1770), artist

References

Below Stairs: 400 Years of Servants’ Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2003, p.142 & fig.26. Gore 1964: F. St John Gore, Upton House, The Bearsted Collection: Pictures National Trust, 1964, no. 92 Waterhouse 1981 Ellis K. Waterhouse, The Dictionary of British 18th-century Painters in oils and crayons, Woodbridge 1981 , p.407 Crookshank 1978 Anne Crookshank & The Knight of Glin, The Painters of Ireland, c. 1660-1920, 1978, p.69 Saumarez-Smith 1993 Charles Saumarez-Smith, Eighteenth-Century Decoration, 1993, p.107, no.90 Crookshank 2002: Anne Crookshank and The Knight of Glin, Ireland’s Painters, 1660–1940, New Haven & London, 2002, p.84

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