Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Portrait miniature - Portrait of Edward Raphael (d.1791)
  • Portrait of Edward Raphael (d.1791)
    Smart, John, born 1742 - died 1811
  • Enlarge image

Portrait of Edward Raphael (d.1791)

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    India (painted)

  • Date:

    1789 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Smart, John, born 1742 - died 1811 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs K. Gifford Scott, from the Hugh John Burton Collection

  • Museum number:

    P.16-1984

  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 12

John Smart was a highly gifted and successful miniature painter who, at the age of 43, decided to leave London and its booming art market and go to practice his talent in India. He spent ten years in Madras, painting members of the British expatriate community and local Indian dignitaries and royalty. This is undoubtedly where he painted this striking image of Edward Rapael, a prominent Armenian merchant. Smart worked in a labour-intensive manner, with careful touches of paint building up strongly modelled and coloured portraits, often of striking power. Despite his years abroad, he remained loyal to the London-based Society of Artists, of which he eventually became President.

Physical description

Portrait miniature of a gentleman wearing an embroidered topi hat, white shirt and green Bandhgala jacket

Place of Origin

India (painted)

Date

1789 (painted)

Artist/maker

Smart, John, born 1742 - died 1811 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on ivory

Marks and inscriptions

J.S. 1789 I
By the sitter's right shoulder

Dimensions

Height: 55 mm, Width: 44 mm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Mrs K. Gifford Scott, from the Hugh John Burton Collection

Historical context note

John Smart was a highly gifted and successful miniature painter who, at the age of 43, left his successful practice and the booming art market of London to go and work in India. He spent ten years in Madras (now called Chennai), painting members of the British expatriate community and local Indian dignitaries and royalty. This striking portrait was undoubtedly painted during Smart’s time in Madras. The sitter has been identified as Edward Raphael (d.1791), an Armenian merchant resident in Madras (see notes in departmental file).

Raphael was born in New Julfa, in the Armenian quarter of the Isfahan province, Iran. He became one of the most prominent members of the Catholic Armenian merchant community in Madras during the second half of the eighteenth century. In 1788 Raphael and several others founded the first joint stock bank in Madras, the Carnatic Bank, which still exists as the Bank of Madras. Raphael was also one of the founders of the Collegio Armeno Moorat Raphael in Venice, along with his son-in-law Samuel Moorat, an eminent diamond trader. Raphael and Moorat were enlightened men, closely associated with the scholarly Mekhitarist religious order and they intended their college to provide the finest education to young Armenians in Europe.

Raphael died on the Brig Prince William Henry on route from Madras to England in 1791 and was buried at sea.

In the Collegio Armeno Moorat Raphael there is a small oil painting identified as Edward Raphael by Gaetano Astolfoni (active Venice 1820-1840) dated 1840, which appears to have been based on Smart’s miniature. The Astolfoni portrait is a half-length composition, in which the sitter is shown holding a letter marked ‘Edward Raphael Esq, Madras’. It is plausible that Astolfoni extended the composition independently. However Smart is known to have made drawings relating to his miniatures, both as preparatory studies and record copies (see Museum nos. P.13-1930 and 104-1888). The compositions of these drawings often varies from that of the associated miniature. As such, it is possible that Astolfoni based his extended portrait on an as yet untraced drawing by Smart.

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature, Portrait of Edward Raphael (d.1791) by John Smart, British School, India, 1789

Materials

Watercolour; Ivory

Techniques

Miniature painting

Subjects depicted

Hat

Categories

Portraits; Paintings

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.