The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 23, 2016

June 23, 1766

John Thomas Smith (June 23, 1766 to 1833) was the son of an artist and became one also, an engraver and antiquarian, blending his talents in a way which led to his being made Keeper of the Prints department of the British Museum (1816).

He published a series of engravings, titled Antiquities of Westminster in 1807. They derived from his sketches of paintings discovered while the House of Parliament was being remodelled. His work showed buildings which were not longer existent and so are famous for their historical value as well as the talent demosntrated.

He continued to study the street life of London and capture it in drawings which show us a time now lost. He drew the denizens of London street life, and published the likenesses of beggars for instance in The Streets of London: Anecdotes of Their More Celebrated Residents (1810-1815).

Smith also wrote biographcial sketches which are an important historical resource. John Thomas Smith was the first biographer of William Blake.

In the words of the chronicler of Spitalfields Life:

Two centuries ago, John Thomas Smith set out to record the last vestiges of ancient London that survived from before the Great Fire of 1666 but which were vanishing in his lifetime....[S]tudy the tender human detail that Smith recorded in these splendid etchings he made from his own drawings, published as Antient Topography of London, 1815. My passion for John Thomas Smith’s work was first ignited by his portraits of raffish street sellers published as Vagabondiana.

And that blog is where I found this picture of "Old House in Sweedon’s Passage, Grub St."

Our chronicler tells us the above was "Drawn July 1791 [and the building] Taken Down March 1805."

No comments: