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Thomas Smith of Derby, A Prospect on the River Manyfold, at Wetton-Mill

A Prospect on the River Manyfold, at Wetton-Mill, 29 July 1743

Thomas Smith of Derby

RA Collection: Art

A minor artist of whom little is known, Thomas Smith 'of Derby' is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the genesis of the English picturesque. His series of 'Eight of the most extraordinary Natural Prospects in the Mountainous Part of Derbyshire and Staffordshire, commonly called the Peak' are the earliest prints to depict features of the English countryside as pure landscape in its own right.

The rugged scenery of the Peak District was already attracting tourists by the late 1730s and it was probably for their benefit that Smith employs numerous motifs from the landscapes of the 17th-century Italian painter Salvador Rosa in this series, albeit with the significant substitution of fashionable sightseers in place of banditti and wild-eyed hermits. Smith gauged his market well and by 1751 had published a total of fifty large prints of English natural scenery, parks and ruins. However he was always careful to maintain a topographical or antiquarian focus to his subjects, and not to depend solely on the aesthetic appeal of his manner of depicting them.

Object details

A Prospect on the River Manyfold, at Wetton-Mill
Etched by
Engraved by
Gerard Jean-Baptiste Scotin (1698 - after 1755)
Published by
Eight of the most extraordinary prospects in ... Derbyshire and Staffordshire, 1743, no. 3
29 July 1743
Object type
Etching and engraving

345 mm x 522 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
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