Stipple Engraving of Portrait of James Smithson at Oxford

ID: MAH-9077


Form/Genre: Watercolor

Date: c. 1900

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 21, Folder 1-A

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A watercolor copy of an oil painting of James Smithson in his Oxford student robes copied from an oil painting by James Roberts (1753 -c.1809) in 1786. This watercolor is only the bust of James Smithson unlike the full length portrait. Smithson attended Pembroke College, Oxford, 1782-1786. The original painting was purchased in 1850 from the widow of John Fitall, Smithson's former servant to whom he had granted an annuity. This copy shows only a bust view of Smithson in his academic garb looking to his left.


  • Fitall, John
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Roberts, James 1753 -c. 1809
  • Fitall, Mrs. John
  • Pembroke College (Oxford University)
  • Oxford University


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


Digital Image is black and white. Close-up of #72-3961 and same portrait as #72-3691-A, #10614, and #10192. Original color stipple engraving is located in Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7000 Box 5 Folder 10. For additional information, see Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, volume 21, pp. 16. This is photograph of a color lithograph half-tone print disguised as a better quality chine colle color stipple engraving (which is interesting in itself as the stipple engraving technique is contemporary to James Smithson). The traditional chine colle is two print papers (a support "press" paper and, usually, a very thin "chinese style" printing paper) that are adhered during the process of running a plate through a printing press in an intaglio process. In this case, however, it appears that the printing paper (which is much thicker than typical chine colle papers) was printed separately in a much more contemporary color halftone printing process and then adhered at a later time to the press paper. There is no additional color or pastel added to the surface of the print. For information on the original painting, visit the Catalog of American Portraits site of the National Portrait Gallery,

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 21, Folder 1-A

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


c. 1900

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Art
  • Benefactors
  • Smithson family
  • Busts
  • Philanthropists
  • Portraits
  • Art objects



ID Number


Physical description

Color: Color; Size: 4 1/4w x 5 1/4h; Type of Image: Bust; Medium: Lithograph

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