Raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, John Smibert was apprenticed to a house painter and plasterer. In 1709 Smibert went to London, and made his living decorating carriages. Beginning in 1713 he studied for three years at night at the Great Queen Street Academy in London, returning to Edinburgh in 1716 to embark on a career as a portrait painter. By 1719 Smibert had set out for Rome, spending time in Paris and in Florence. He supported himself on his travels by taking commissions for portraits and making copies of Old Masters. Smibert arrived in Rome in 1720, and stayed until 1722 when he returned to London and set up a studio on the Strand near Covent Garden. In 1725 he moved his studio to Covent Garden, the center of the artistic community in London, where he began painting miniatures as well as full-size portraits. Smibert’s sitters during this period were mainly upper-middle-class merchants, lawyers and other professionals, with a scattering of titled individuals. Smibert arrived in Newport, Rhode Island in 1729 in the company of Dean Berkeley, a high official of the Church of England whose mission was to establish a university in Bermuda to train up the “savage” Americans to a life of cultured Christianity. Smibert had been chosen for the role of the new university’s professor of fine arts. The plan, however, never came to fruition. While living in Berkeley’s house “Whitehall” near Sachuest Beach in 1729, Smibert completed a group portrait of Berkeley and his family and colleagues working on the Bermuda plan. By 1730 Smibert had moved to Boston. He established a studio and shop at the corner of Brattle and Court Streets, where he painted, but also sold prints and art-related merchandize. Here the artist painted many prominent Bostonians, primarily merchants, but also distinguished clergy, colonial officials, and their wives. In 1740 Smibert traveled to Philadelphia and New York, fulfilling portrait commissions along the way. By 1741 the artist had contracted a serious illness which limited his ability to paint. He turned his attention to architecture, submitting plans for the first Faneuil Hall, Boston’s public market, which was built in 1742. By 1746 Smibert’s career as a painter was finished, his illness and failing eyesight making it impossible for him to paint. He died in Boston in 1751. His artwork is represented in the collections of the descendants of his patrons, in many American museums, the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and the National Portrait Gallery in London.