Robert Smirke RA (1753–1845)
Robert Smirke RA (1753–1845) was an English painter and illustrator, who specialised in small paintings showing subjects taken from literature. From an early age his was apprenticed to a heraldic artist, then studied at the Royal Academy Schools. In 1791 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, then in 1793 he became a full academician. In 1804 he was nominated to succeed Joseph Wilton as keeper to the Royal Academy, but George III refused to sanction the appointment on account of his revolutionary political opinions.
Smirke's pictures were usually of small size and painted in monochrome, and so adapted for engraving. He designed illustrations for numerous publications, including the Bible, The Picturesque Beauties of Shakespeare, John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery and for Bowyer's History of England.
Smirke’s sons Robert and Sydney were notable architects and members of the Royal Academy, Richard was a notable antiquarian artist, and Edward was a noted lawyer and antiquary.