William Smellie

A stippled steel plate engraving from an earlier portrait by George Watson of Robert Burns' printer in Edinburgh .   William Smellie and his partner, William Creech were responsible for printing the Edinburgh edition of Burns work. It was in his untidy office in the Anchor Close, off the High Street, that Burns corrected his proofs. William Smellie was widely regarded for his knowledge of literature and science and was the editor and principal author of the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.   Burns introduced Smellie to his friend, Maria Riddell, and despite their different backgrounds they became close friends and correspondents from then on. In 1792 Smellie travelled to Dumfries to visit Burns and Maria Riddell. This portrait was painted in the 1790s by the artist, George Watson who was married to Smellie's daughter, Rebecca.   This portrait of William Smellie was published in "The Land of Burns - A series of Landscapes and Portraits, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of the Scottish Poet". This was published in 1846 by Blackie and Son of Glasgow. At this time the development of steel plate engraving made it possible for images to be reproduced in much greater numbers than previous printing technology had allowed. Books such as this one, illustrated by engravings of works by eminent artists became popular, although they were still expensive and beyond the pocket of most people.
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H B Hall
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width: 120 mm, length: 145 mm
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