Wilson Online Reference
Joseph Smith, c.1674-1770
Connection to Wilson
Friend in Italy
Biographical Details
Joseph Smith was an English merchant banker, collector, dealer, bookseller, publisher and patron, who lived in Venice from about 1700 and was British Consul there from 1744 to 1760 and again briefly in 1766. He built up an outstanding art collection, notably the largest number of works by Canaletto ever assembled, which he sold to George III in 1762. His residence in Venice was the Palazzo Balbi on the Grand Canal, which having purchased in 1740 he remodelled in the Palladian style. The work was completed in 1751, about the time when Wilson arrived in Venice. He also owned a villa at Mogliano in the Veneto. That year, in one of his rare surviving letters, Wilson wrote, 'Mr. Smith (blessed be the name) our Consul here, is exceedingly kind to me, he is a very great virtuoso, among other things he has got me the painting of Mr. Sackville [untraced], which he is to send to my Lord Middlesex which I hope will do me much honour.' (Letter to Admiral Smith, dated 8 July 1751, cited in WGC, pp. 21-22). Nevertheless, despite his extensive patronage of the arts, including a collection of about 500 pictures, by painters such as the Ricci, Visentini, Rosalba Carriera, Piazzetta, Canaletto and Zuccarelli, Smith does not appear to have owned any works by Wilson.

See further:
F. Vivian, The Consul Smith Collection: Masterpieces of Italian Drawing from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, Raphael to Canaletto, Munich, 1989;
A King's Purchase : King George III and the Collection of Consul Smith, exh.cat., Queen's Gallery, London, 1993;
L. Whitaker, 'A Portrait of Consul Smith', Burlington Magazine, vol. 160, no. 1380, March 2018, pp. 214-16.
Significant institutions
The Royal Collection
Updated by Compiler
2018-08-02 00:00:00