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Rivals: John Smart and Richard Cosway

Rivals: John Smart and Richard Cosway

As young artists, John Smart and Richard Cosway studied in London at the Royal Society of Arts drawing academy in the 1750s. The academy held an annual competition, which Cosway won in 1755. Smart went on to win the following three years, and a rivalry was born.

Smart and Cosway became the most successful miniature painters working in Britain in the late 1700s, but they painted in dramatically different styles. While Cosway created flattering, airy portraits, Smart painted carefully observed faces in saturated hues. This exhibition of 15 works by the two artists contrasts their styles and career paths.

The Starr Collection of Miniatures in the Bloch Galleries
Presented to the Nelson-Atkins by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Starr in two major gifts from 1958 and 1965, and numerous additional gifts through the years, the Starr Collection of Miniatures illustrates the history of European portrait miniatures through more than 250 objects. These delicate objects, many of which are painted in watercolor on ivory, include works by Britain’s greatest miniaturists, ranging from the late 1500s to the early 1800s, as well as some very fine examples by European and American artists made during the same time frame.

The exhibition of portrait miniatures in Gallery P24 changes every twelve months to showcase the variety of the collection and also to limit exposure of the light-sensitive pigments.

John Smart, Portrait of a Lady
John Smart, English (1741–1811). Portrait of a Lady, 1776. Watercolor on ivory, 1 15/16 x 1 5/8 inches. Gift of the Starr Foundation, Inc., F65-41/17.
Sunday: 10 am - 5 PM
Monday: 10 am - 5 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10 AM - 5 PM
Thursday: 10 AM - 9 PM
Friday: 10 AM - 9 PM
Saturday: 10 AM - 5 PM

Admission is free.
Location: Gallery P24