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John 'Warwick' Smith, O.W.S. (Cumberland 1749-1831 London)
JOHN 'WARWICK' SMITH, O.W.S. (LOTS 197-202) John ‘Warwick’ Smith’s Italian views embody the late 18th Century appeal of the picturesque and the lure of classical Italy. Smith’s principal patron, George, 2nd Earl of Warwick sent the artist to Italy in 1776 and supported him there for five years, earning the artist his other eponym John ‘Italian’ Smith. While visiting Rome, the Campagna and Naples, Smith met artists such as William Pars (1742-1782), John Robert Cozens (1752-1797), Thomas Jones (1742-1803) and Francis Towne (1740-1816). The formative influence of his fellow artists can be seen in the following views from the muted palette of Cozens to the later striking green and earthy red washes reminiscent of Towne.
John 'Warwick' Smith, O.W.S. (Cumberland 1749-1831 London)

View of Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

John 'Warwick' Smith, O.W.S. (Cumberland 1749-1831 London)
View of Vesuvius, Naples, Italy
inscribed 'at Naples' (on the verso)
pencil and watercolour within the artist's wash-line mount
11 3/8 x 17 ½ in. (28.9 x 44.5 cm.)
with Agnew's, London.
F.J.B. Watson and by descent to the present owner.

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Lot Essay

THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN (LOTS 119. 124, 147-8, 163-8 AND 196)

Between March 1778 and July 1779 Smith was in Naples, arriving a year after the dramatic eruption of Vesuvius. Its smouldering form captured the imagination of Smith and his contemporaries. The panoramic composition and subtle tones of grey, blue and brown in the present drawing echo the distinctive Italian views painted by John Robert Cozens. Cozens first visited Italy in 1776 with the collector Richard Payne Knight and returned in 1782 with William Beckford. The resulting evocative and lightly tinted landscapes were much admired at the time and by the next generation OF artists including Thomas Girtin and J.M.W. Turner. Another notable feature of Smith’s composition which points to the influence of his contemporaries is the angular wall which dissects the foreground; an almost incidental element which gives a sense of immediacy and reality suggestive of Thomas Jones’s work. Jones arrived in Italy the same year as Smith and his drawings and numerous oil sketches are remarkable for their freshness and informal approach to composition.

For a note on Francis Watson see lot 163.


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