PORTRAIT OF LEONARD SMELT - BY ENOCH SEEMAN.
Particularly fine and decorative 18th century portrait of Leonard Smelt. He stands three quarter length, eyes to front, in a landscape, and wears a brocade trimmed jacket and brandishes a gold topped cane. Housed in its original in a carved and gilded frame.
Enoch Seeman (1694 - 1744) was born in 1694 at Danzig in Germany, where his father was settled as a painter. It is possible that the famous German ‘virtuoso’ painter, Balthasar Denner, who received some of his early instruction in painting at Danzig, may have been a pupil of Seeman's father, for some of Seeman's early paintings were executed in imitation of Denner's manner. Among these were a portrait of himself at the age of nineteen, and an old woman's head in which the wrinkles, hair, fabric of clothes, are delineated in the minute manner which is seen in Denner's works. Seeman was brought by his father, when young, to London, and practised there as a portrait-painter with great success.
He resided in St. Martin's Lane, and at first styled himself ‘Enoch Seeman, junior.’ He was a good portrait-painter, and his portraits of ladies were much admired. The conventionalities, however, of costume and posture have destroyed the value of his portraits. His portraits or portrait-groups were sometimes on a very large scale, such as the imposing picture of the Lapland giant, Gaianus, painted in 1734, now at Dalkeith Palace, and the family group of Sir John Cust [q. v.] at Belton House, Grantham.
Seeman frequently painted his own portrait, in which he is seen in an animated attitude, with long flowing hair. One example is in the royal picture gallery at Dresden, and was engraved by J. G. Schmidt. Another, with his daughter in boy's clothes, was at Strawberry Hill. A portrait by him of Sir Isaac Newton, formerly in the possession of Thomas Hollis, F.S.A., was engraved in mezzotint by J. MacArdell. Seeman also painted George II, Queen Caroline (a portrait of whom by him is in the National Portrait Gallery), and other members of the royal family. He died suddenly in 1744. His son, Paul Seeman, painted portraits and still life, and his three brothers were all painters and ingenious artists, one of whom, Isaac Seeman, died in London on 4 April 1751.
Leonard Smelt (1683 - 1740)
Smelt was an English Whig member of parliament. He was the eldest son of Leonard Smelt of Kirkby Fleetham and his wife Grace Frankland, daughter of Sir William Frankland. His brother was William Smelt. He graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge in 1700 and became the first MP in his family via a by-election for Thirsk in 1709. He stood unopposed thanks to an agreement between Ralph Bell and Smelt's mother's brother Thomas Frankland, the two main interests in the constituency - Bell agreed to support Smelt in return for Frankland supporting Bell's nominee at the next election.
In 1710 Smelt both succeeded his father and voted in favour of the impeachment of Henry Sacheverell. He stood down from Thirsk in 1710 as per the Frankland-Bell agreement but was returned for Northallerton in 1713, voting against Richard Steele's explusion the following year. He paid for Northallerton to have a public clock and like his father was a trustee of Kettlewell's charity, which provided the town's poor with education, clothes, medicine and Bibles. When the House of Hanover took the British throne in 1714, Smelt continued to support the Whig government, thus earning himself posts as commissioner for army debts (1715-1722), clerk of deliveries at the Board of Ordnance (1722-1733) and finally clerk (1733-1740) at the Board of Ordnance.
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Canvas : 50" x 40" / 127cm x 101cm.
Frame: 56" x 47" / 142cm x 120cm.
Internal Ref: 00016