John Smart was an accomplished late eighteenth-century miniaturist. He trained at William Shipley’s drawing academy in London from 1755 and, by 1760, he had established a successful career as a miniature painter in the city. He became known for his skilled draughtsmanship; he often used detailed drawings as a basis for his miniatures, alongside detailed brushwork and lively colour. Smart exhibited in London and became director of the Society of Artists in 1771 and later its president in 1778. In 1785 he travelled to India where he exploited the portraiture market, painting British residents and also the nawab of Arcot. He returned to London in 1795. His son, John Smart junior, followed in his footsteps as a miniature painter.