The son of an Edinburgh wool dyer, John Smibert was apprenticed to a house painter and plasterer before training as an artist in London from 1713. He returned to Edinburgh two years later and soon completed his first portrait commissions. After a stay of three years in Italy during which time he studied the Old Masters, in 1722 he opened a portrait studio in London. By 1728, however, Smibert was persuaded to travel to the British colony of Bermuda in order to teach painting at a college that had not yet been founded. This mission proved unsuccessful and Smibert settled in Boston where he married the well-off daughter of a schoolmaster. He became a man of social standing and a successful portrait painter, who was to have considerable influence on later American portraiture.