Sir Richard Arkwright
© National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston
Sir Richard Arkwright
by Joseph Wright
oil on canvas, circa 1783-1785
49 5/8 in. x 40 1/8 in. (1260 mm x 1020 mm)
Purchased jointly with the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the Portrait Fund, PRISM, the Friends of the Harris, The Headley Trust, Sir Harry Djanogly, the Halecat Charitable Trust, Nicholas and Judith Goodison through the Art Fund and many other donations., 2008
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Artistback to top
- Joseph Wright (1734-1797), Painter, known as 'Wright of Derby'. Artist associated with 19 portraits, Sitter associated with 7 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The artist, Joseph Wright of Derby, took a keen interest in industrial and scientific developments, painting several of the leading figures of the Midlands Enlightenment and the Lunar Society. This is the first of the several portraits Wright painted of Arkwright and it is characteristic of the candid approach to such self-made men. Wright's artful use of light and shade, here subtly reveals an assertive and ambitious Arkwright emerging from the shadows towards the light of social, commercial and political ascendancy.
Events of 1783back to top
Current affairsWilliam Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne resigns as Prime Minister over the proposed peace terms with the United States. Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford briefly forms a government with Charles James Fox in April but is succeeded by a government under William Pitt the Younger who, at the age of 24 becomes the youngest British Prime Minister ever to take office. The highwayman John Austin is the last person to be publicly executed at Tyburn.
Art and sciencePhysician and natural philosopher Erasmus Darwin begins publication of A System of Vegetables, a translation from Latin of the work of Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus in which he coins many common English names of plants.
InternationalDefeat of Charles James Fox's India Bill in the House of Lords which aimed to assist ailing British East India Company. American War of Independence: Treaty of Paris is signed by Britain, France, Spain and the United States, under which the British government recognises US independence. Britain begins to evacuate loyalists and the last British troops leave New York City three months later.
See this portrait
On display at Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston