Tho: Tompion Automatopoeus

Method Mezzotint
Artist John Smith after Sir Godfrey Kneller
Published 1697
Dimensions Image 337 x 248 mm, Sheet 345 x 252 mm
Notes A rare mezzotint portrait of the clock, watch, and scientific instrument maker Thomas Tompion. Set within an oval frame, Tompion is depicted gazing forward, wearing a buttoned coat and neck scarf, holding an elaborately decorated watch in his left hand. Artist and engraver's names "G. Kneller Eques pinx:" and "I Smith fec: et ex." inscribed below title.

Thomas Tompion (1639-1713) was Clockmaker to King Charles II and is regarded as the Father of English Clockmaking. Born in 1639 in Ikwell, Bedordshire, he was the eldest son of a Blacksmith of the same name. Very little is known of his early career or apprenticeship, but by 1674 he had been introduced to Robert Hooke and worked on Hooke's horary quadrant. In 1675 Tompion collaborated with Hooke and Sir Jonas Moore on a commission to design and build a timekeeping device that might provide a solution to the problem of longitude, this commission was later to become known as the 'King's Watch' and was one of the first watches to utilise balance springs. Tompion continued to experiment with balance springs and his design became the standard pattern in English watches throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Tompion went on to create some of the most historic and important clocks and watches in the world and later in his career went into partnership with Edward Banger in 1701, and George Graham from c.1711.

John Smith (1652-1743) early British mezzotinter. He was born at Daventry, Northamptonshire, about 1652. He was apprenticed to a painter named Tillet in London, and studied mezzotint engraving under Isaac Beckett and Jan van der Vaardt. He became the favourite engraver of Sir Godfrey Kneller, whose paintings he extensively reproduced, and in whose house he is said to have lived for some time. He produced some 500 plates, 300 of which are portraits. On giving up business he retired to Northamptonshire, where he died on 17 January 1742 at the age of ninety. He was buried in the churchyard of St Peter's, Northampton, where there was a tablet to his memory and that of his wife Sarah, who died in 1717.

Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1st Baronet (1646-1723) was the leading portrait painter in England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and was court painter to British monarchs from Charles II to George I. His major works include The Chinese Convert (1687) a series of four portraits of Isaac Newton painted at various junctures of the latter's life, a series of ten reigning European monarchs, including King Louis XIV of France, over 40 "Kit-cat portraits" of members of the Kit-Cat Club and ten "beauties" of the court of William III, to match a similar series of ten beauties of the court of Charles II painted by his predecessor as court painter, Sir Peter Lely.

Chaloner Smith 252 ii, O'Donoghue 1

Condition: Trimmed just outside platemark. Light creasing to bottom corners of sheet, not affecting image or inscription. Laid paper watermarked 'PvL' (Gravell Watermark Archive INIT.309.1).
Framing unmounted
Price £2,500.00
Stock ID 51001

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