Edwin Dalton Smith (England, 1800-52?)

Figure 1.--This miniture of an English boy was painted by Edwin Dalton Smith in 1834. He looks to be wearing a olive green velvet dress with a low neckline. Note that even though he has not been breeched that he does have a short hair cut.

The Artist

Edwin Dalton Smith was an accomplished pre/early Victorian artist. He is best known for both portrait minatures and botanicalworks. He was taught by his father, Anker Smith (1759-1819), who was himself a noted engraver and miniaturist. Smith lived in Chelsea (London). He exhibited much of his work from 1816-47. This means that his early work was pre-Victorian. He exhibited at least 66 works at the Royal Academy and an additional 13 at the Suffolk Street Galleries. Smith has left us some charming early 19th century portraits showing boys' clothing--although the small size does not provide the detail available in the work of other artists. Edwin’s skill in small-scale work is clearly shown in the extensive botanical work that he also did. He worked for a time with Robert Sweet's Flower Garden. He published his work in several publications, including Geraniaceae and Flora Australisca. He also worked for Maund's Botanic Garden. Smith was for many years attached to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew--one of the world's premier institutions for botanical studies. Art historians especially appreciate his command of color.

The Boy

This English boy was painted by Edwin Dalton Smith. The portrait is signed and dated in 1834. Unfortunately we do not know the boy's identity, but he clearly came from a well-to-do family. He looks to be about 6 years old to HBC. A HBC reader suggests, "I think in the 1800s children were smaller than they are these days. He could be 6 or 7 years old." The gallery offering this painting though that he was older and suggested 10 years, but HBC thinks this unlikely as he appears to still be wearing a dress. While some boys in the early 19th century might still werar dresses, especially boys from wealthy families, HBC thinks this boy was younger. He is posed with his pet dog. He looks to be wearing an olive green velvet dress with a low neckline and slightly puffed sleeves. There is a trace of a white undershirt of some kind. While the boy is not yet breeched, he does have a short hair cut.


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Created: February 22, 2002
Last updated: 1:59 AM 1/18/2008