of Edinburgh, was born about 1684, and served his time with a common house-painter ; but eager to handle a pencil in a more elevated style, he came to London, where, however for subsistence he was forced to content himself at first with working for coach-painters. It was a little rise to be employed in copying for dealers, and from thence he obtained admittance into the academy. His efforts and ardour at last carried him to Italy, where he spent three years in copying portraits of Raphael, Titian, Vandyck, and Rubens, and improved enough to meet with much business at his return. When his industry and abilities had thus surmounted the asperities of his fortune, he was tempted against the persuasion of his friends to embark in the uncertain but amusing scheme of the famous Dean Berkeley, afterwards Bishop of Cloyne, whose benevolent heart was then warmly set on the erection of a universal college of science and arts in Bermudas, for the instruction of heathen children in Christian duties and civil knowledge. Smibert, a silent and modest man, who abhorred the finesse of some of his profession, was enchanted with a plan that he thought promised him tranquillity, and honest subsistence in a healthful Elysian climate, 1 and in spite of remonstrances engaged with the dean, whose zeal had ranged the favour of the court on his side. The king's death dispelled the vision. Smibert, however, who had set sail, found it convenient or had not resolution enough to proceed, but settled at Boston in New England, where he succeeded to his wish, and married a woman with a considerable fortune, whom he left a widow with two children in March 1751. A panegyric on him, written there, was printed here in the Courant, 1730. Vertue, in whose notes I find these particulars, mentions another painter of the same country, one Alex____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists. Volume: 2. Contributors: Horace Walpole - Author. Publisher: Swan Sonnenschein. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1888. Page number: 289.
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