In 1799 J. M. W. Turner criticised Smith's ‘mechanically systematic' watercolours, but Smith's use of strong local colours applied without grey underpainting and his abandonment of pen-and-ink outlines gives a forceful and painterly quality to his watercolours. His Welsh views often include figures involved in agricultural or commercial activities, and he very effectively brought out the potential drama to be found in landscapes of cliffs and waterfalls, using them to dwarf his figures in a manner that places him among the early Romantic watercolour artists.
B. S. Long: ‘John (Warwick) Smith', Walker's Q., xxiv (1927) [whole issue]
I. A. Williams: ‘John “Warwick” Smith, 1749–1831', Old Wtrcol. Soc. Club, xxiv (1946), pp. 8–19
M. Hardie: Water-Colour Painting in Britain, i (London, 1966), pp. 88, 113–17, 173
A. Wilton: British Watercolours, 1750 to 1850 (Oxford, 1977), pp. 28, 31, 188, 193, 197–8
Presences of Nature: British
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