‘The Picture Book’
Oil on panel 12” x 14”
The Victorian taste for charming paintings of children was almost insatiable, and of the many painters working in this genre, George Smith was certainly one of the most successful and popular.
A pupil of the Royal Academy Schools and of Charles West Cope RA, Smith would have learnt much about the painting of historical and biblical subjects. Indeed, Cope employed Smith to assist him in painting parts of the fresco in the new Palace of Westminster.
However, the genre George Smith was ultimately drawn to was that of painting children, more particularly in domestic scenes, and much like T Webster and FD Hardy, whose work was clearly influential on the artist.
The Picture Book depicts a very typical scene of improvement and learning – often children would be shown helping each other, but here it is an adult, most likely the girl’s mother, who has taken time out from her needlework (see the pin cushion and scrap of ribbon in the left foreground) to instruct her child.
George Smith was a prolific painter and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1848 onwards as well as at the Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour amongst others. His first painting to be shown at the British Institute, in 1847, was The Gypsy Girl. His work is held in a number of collections, most prominently the Victoria and Albert Museum and in Nottingham and Rochdale Art Galleries.
© Sutcliffe Galleries 2012