"In the 1870s Smetham began to paint in thinned oils mixed with copal (a kind of resin) over pen and ink on small panels, that he could 'do in a day and at a sitting', 'glowing in colour and rich in effect', 'too small for Exhibitions — more for cabinets'. They were to have been his financial salvation, but nothing could save him from the depression that gave him insomnia, against which he dosed himself increasingly with chloral. Smetham was a strange figure, conscious of his own isolation. A fervent Wesleyan, the son of a minister, he had attempted to evolve 'a place of life, beginning in a course of long disciplinary study, and intended to combine art, literature, and the religious life all in one'. Towards the end of his life lie wrote: 'Am I to be gradually crushed and ruined by critics, utter neglect or collision with Methodism?'"

"His work was greatly admired by Ruskin, and by Rossetti, who saw him as the successor to Blake." — Rupert Maas, p. 56



The Maas Gallery. Exhibition catalogue. London, 2008.

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Last modified 5 November 2004