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Painting Title Portrait of John Smyth of Heath Hall, Yorkshire
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Batoni, Pompeo (Italian painter and draftsman, 1708-1787)
Date 1773 (dated)
Signed yes

The sitter was painted in Rome while on his Grand Tour, a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men as a part of their education. He is shown with a fragment of antique column and a glimpse of the Roman Campagna in the background. John Smyth of Heath Hall near Wakefield (1748-1811) was a member of a wealthy family that were originally wool merchants in Wakefield and acquired Eshald Hall in 1709. The sitter lived the life of a Yorkshire gentleman and also entered politics, becoming member of Parliment for Pontefract (1783-1807).

Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (1708-1787) was an Italian painter who specialised in portrait painting, although he produced numerous allegorical and mythological pictures, as well as religious ones. He portrayed mainly the foreign visitors travelling throughout Italy and reaching Rome during their Grand Tour. Many of his customers were British, so his paintings were in many British private collections.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 1482
Inscription front lr 'P. BATONI PINXIT ROMAE / ANNO 1773'
Subject portrait (John Smyth)
Measurements 98.5 x 73 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from an American private collector through Simon Dickinson Ltd in London, with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, The Art Fund, Friends of York Art Gallery, York Georgian Society, York Civic Trust and an anonymous donation 1996.
Provenance John Smyth; by descent to Louisa (daughter of Colonel John George Smyth) who married Sir John Thursby, first Baronet; by descent to Sir George Thursby, II Baronet; Thursby's sale, Sotheby's, 19 June 1935, lot 89, purchased by R. Frank; Agnew, London; E. J. Rousuck, New York, from whom purchased by Mrs. Mary Roberts Rinehart 1941; her descendants' sale Sotheby's, New York, 19 January 1984, lot 24, purchased by Colnaghi; purchased by American private collector.
Principal Exhibitions National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868, no. 3212 (lent by Colonel Smyth); Art, Commerce, Scholarship: A Window on to the Art World - Colnaghi 1760 to 1984, Colnaghi Gallery, London, 1984, no. 20.
Publications Hailstone, E. (ed.), Portraits of Yorkshire Worthies, II, London, 1869, no. CLXII; Steegman, J., 'Some English Portraits by Pompeo Batoni', Burlington Magazine, LXXXVII, 1946, p. 60; Belli Barsali, I., 'Pompeo Girolamo Batoni', Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, VII, Rome, 1965, p. 201; Clark, M.A., Pompeo Batoni, Oxford 1985, p. 328, no. 363, pl. 330; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 238.
Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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