Gaspar Smitz, Portrait Painter

(d. 1707)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

A Flemish artist who came to England soon after the Restoration. He painted portraits in oil, and also fruit and flowers. A favourite subject was "The Magdalene," which he repeated so often as to obtain for him the sobriquet of "Magdalene Smith." In these pictures he usually introduced in the foreground a large thistle-plant. One, dated 1662, is in the Painters' Hall, London. A lady whom he had instructed in drawing induced him to visit Ireland, where he painted small portraits, as well as fruit and flowers; and his works were so much admired that one picture of a bunch of grapes sold for forty pounds. In Dublin he was a member, from 1681, of the Corporation of Cutlers and Painter-Stayners, the Guild of St. Luke. He was a rival of J. M. Wright and Thomas Pooley, and enjoyed a good practice; but although he charged high prices his extravagance kept him always in difficulties, and he died in distress in Dublin, in 1707 according to Bryan; but in the lists of members of the Guild of St. Luke his name does not appear after 1688. Portraits by him of Oliver Grace and his wife Mary, afterwards Viscountess Mountgarret, are engraved in "Memoirs of the Family of Grace," 1823. Two of his fruit pieces were sold in Dublin, from the collection of William Holmes, in 1836; a "Magdalene" was engraved in mezzotint by John Smith.

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