Smith, Anker (DNB00)

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SMITH, ANKER (1759–1819), engraver, was born in 1759 in Cheapside, London, where his father was a silk merchant. He is said to have owed his curious Christian name to the fact that he was regarded as the ‘anchor’ or sole hope of his parents. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' school, and at first articled to an uncle named Hoole, a solicitor; but, showing singular skill in making pen-and-ink copies of engravings, he was transferred to James Taylor, an engraver, with whom he remained until 1782. Subsequently he became an assistant to James Heath (1757–1834) [q. v.] In 1787 Smith obtained his first independent employment from John Bell (1745–1831) [q. v.], for whose series of ‘British Poets’ he engraved many of the illustrations. He became one of the ablest of English line engravers, his small plates being specially distinguished for correctness of drawing and beauty of finish. Through his relative John Hoole [q. v.], the translator, he became known to Alderman Boydell, who commissioned him to engrave Northcote's picture of the ‘Death of Wat Tyler;’ the print was published in 1796, and earned for him his election as an associate of the Royal Academy in the following year. In 1798 he executed a large plate from Leonardo da Vinci's cartoon of the Holy Family in the possession of the academy. During the remainder of his life Smith was extensively employed upon the illustrations to fine editions of standard works, such as Macklin's Bible, 1800; Boydell's ‘Shakespeare’ (the smaller series), 1802; Kearsley's ‘Shakespeare,’ 1806; Bowyer's edition of Hume's ‘History of England,’ 1806; and Sharpe's ‘British Classics.’ He engraved many of R. Smirke's designs for the ‘Arabian Nights,’ 1802; ‘Gil Blas,’ 1809; and ‘Don Quixote,’ 1818; and was one of the artists employed upon the official publication, ‘Ancient Marbles in the British Museum.’ His latest work was a large plate from Heaphy's picture, ‘The Duke of Wellington giving Orders to his Generals,’ which he did not live to complete. He died of apoplexy on 23 June 1819. Smith married in 1791, and left a widow, one daughter, and four sons; two of the latter are noticed below. His sister Maria, who was an artist, and exhibited portraits between 1791 and 1814, married William Ross, a miniature-painter, and was the mother of Sir William Charles Ross [q. v.]

Frederick William Smith (d. 1835), sculptor, second son of Anker Smith, was born at Pimlico, London. He studied at the Royal Academy, and was the first pupil of Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey [q. v.] He began to exhibit in 1818, sending a bust of his father, and in 1821 gained the academy gold medal with a group of Hæmon and Antigone; in 1824 he exhibited a beautiful group of a mother and child from the ‘Murder of the Innocents,’ and he also modelled some excellent busts of Chantrey, Brunel, Allan Cunningham, and others, appearing at the academy for the last time in 1828. Smith was a sculptor of great talent and promise, but died prematurely at Shrewsbury on 18 Jan. 1835 (Gent. Mag. 1855, i. 327).

His younger brother, Herbert Luther Smith (1811–1870), was a painter of scriptural and historical subjects, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and British Institution from 1830 to 1854; later he was employed as a copyist by the queen. He died on 13 March 1870.

[Redgrave's Dict. of British Artists; Sandby's History of the Royal Academy; Knight's Cyclopædia of Biography; Dodd's manuscript Hist. of Engravers in Brit. Mus. (Addit. MS. 33405); Athenæum, 1835, p. 75.]

F. M. O'D.