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Captain Smart

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1639 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 9

Object Type
Oil-painted portraits of noble or wealthy men and women became increasingly common in the 17th century, as Britain became more prosperous through trade and many more citizens were granted titles by the King. The pictures nearly always show the sitters splendidly dressed in the height of expensive fashion, in order to emphasise their new wealth, status or nobility.

Very little is known of the sitter, but it seems that the traditional title `Captain Smart' is correct. The arms and crest are those of the Smart family, and the sitter might be Rowland Smart, Swordbearer to the Lord Mayor of London in the 1640s.

Subjects Depicted
Wealthy men and women sometimes spent enormous sums of money on their dress, even if they were mere citizens and not ennobled. In a portrait, the depiction of the clothing was as important as the features of the sitter himself. Here, silver-gilt thread decorates Captain Smart's gloves, his sword belt, his sash and his buttons, and is even woven into the fabric of his doublet. Because of the splendid depiction of these clothes, the portrait was acquired by the Museum in 1892 as an `illustration of costume'. It remained in the Textiles Department until 1935 (rather than the Paintings Department,) as a record of 17th-century dress.

Physical description

Oil painting

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1639 (dated)



Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas


Height: 103.5 cm canvas only, Width: 78.5 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Object history note

Purchased, 1892

Purchased from the sale of ‘Antique Furniture, Oak Cabinets, Curios, China, Pictures, Coins, &c., collected by Edward Peacock, Esq., F.S.A.’ held by Messrs. Spring and Son at Bottesford Manor, near Brigg, Lincolnshire, Wednesday, June 1st, 1892. Lot 21, ‘Oil painting of Captain Smart, of the London Trained Bands, time of Charles I.’, for £17-0-0. According to Nominal File (E. Peacock) this painting and three others (museum nos. 533, 534, 535, 536-1892) were acquired as ‘Costume Pictures’. Edward Peacock F.S.A (1831-1915) was then owner of Bottesford Manor.

Descriptive line

Oil painting possibly depicting Captain Rowland Smart, Britain, dated 1639

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The arms and crest shown are those of the Smart family, and this is likely to be a portrait of Rowland Smart, aged 39, Swordbearer to the Lord Mayor of London. The clothing indicates high status and wealth. Silver-gilt thread decorates his gloves, his sword belt, his sash, his buttons and is even woven into the fabric of his doublet. [27/03/2003]


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Coats of arms


Paintings; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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