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The Smithy

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (printed)

  • Date:

    1894 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sharples, James, born 1825 - died 1893 (maker)
    Goupil & Co. (published)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Photogravure india proof

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Marion Sharples, the artist's grand-daughter

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2D, shelf DR80, box SS60

James Sharples was working outside the London print trade in publishing his print The Forge. The acclaim that he received for that print must have been a motivating factor behind the publication by the firm Goupil of a photogravure of The Smithy by Sharples from an as yet unidentified source.

Sharples was a blacksmith and self-taught artist who lived in Blackburn, Lancashire. His significance to art history and the history of the working class lies in his being a manual worker resident outside London whose artistic output attracted the notice and admiration of the London art establishment.

Sharples was not trained in the techniques of reproductive printmaking and reputedly made the tools for his printmaking himself. The practice of a craftsman making his own tools was standard in many trades. That in this instance the tools were for the making of a fine art object reflects the unique nature of this project which unitied art and manufacturing. The plate for this print is in the collection of Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery.

Physical description

Interior of a smithy with furnace and shovels in the back left corner, five men and a boy working in the centre beneath a central hanging light and two more men working in the background. On the right wall are tools, also two arched glazed windows and a small square unglazed and open window high up in the centre.

Place of Origin

Paris (printed)


1894 (made)


Sharples, James, born 1825 - died 1893 (maker)
Goupil & Co. (published)

Materials and Techniques

Photogravure india proof

Marks and inscriptions

Published by the Executors of the Late James Sharples, Blackburn, 1894. / THE SMITHY / From the Picture by the Late James Sharples
Centred, lower margin

Printed in Paris.
Top right of lower margin

Copyright registered
Top margin, centred

Top left, lower margin


Height: 21.6 cm platemark, Width: 33.2 cm platemark, Height: 43.1 cm sheet, Width: 62.6 cm sheet

Object history note

Provenance: the artist's grand-daughter by descent.
R.P. No. 93/1031

Descriptive line

Photogravure. Printed in Paris by Goupil from a print by James Sharples. The Smithy, 1894.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baron, J. James Sharples: Blacksmith and Artist. London, 1893, p.50-53 (illus).


Paper; Printing ink



Subjects depicted

Smithy; Shovels; Blacksmiths; Anvil; Beams; Subject; Hooks; Windows; Chisels; Mallets; Furnace; Men; Founders; Windows; Tongs; Boy


Printmaking techniques


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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