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.