The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Joseph Wright (1734-1797), Painter, known as 'Wright of Derby'

Self portraits
c.1753-54
Painting, half length in Van Dyck costume. Derby Museum and Art Gallery (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, II, pl.6; J. Egerton et al., Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, London, Paris, New York, 1990, no.1). A related pencil drawing of the head is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, II, pl.7).

c.1760-63?
Painting, half length in red Van Dyck costume, a black plumed hat under his right arm. Sotheby’s, 16 November 1983, lot 45 (from the collection of Maud, Countess Wharncliffe).

c.1765-70
Charcoal drawing, bust length. Derby Museum and Art Gallery (DBYMU 1954-186; J. Egerton et al., Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, London, Paris, New York, 1990, no.54).

c.1772-73
Painting, half length, wearing fur cap, a porte-crayon in his left hand. Private collection (J. Egerton et al., Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, London, Paris, New York, 1990, no.94). See also the portrait of c.1776 attributed to Hurlston.

c.1773
Painting, half length, with a striped silk turban, right hand on chin. Private collection (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, II, pl.120). A copy by John Holland 1800 in a private collection. Copies in the National Gallery Canada (6508), and sold Bonham’s, 17 April 1958, lot 104, and 2 October 1958, lot 89.

c.1779-82
Painting half length with a broad-brimmed hat. formerly Cade collection (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, no.170). Engraved J. Ward 1807 (illus. J. Egerton et al., Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, London, Paris, New York, 1990, P43). Copy by John Holland (private collection; illus. B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, I, fig.8); another copy in Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Other versions include those sold American Art Association, 10 January 1929, lot 21 (as Reynolds by Dance); Sotheby’s, 10 November 1993, lot 56; Bonham’s, 19 March 1997, lot 537; Christie’s, 11 April 1997, lot 65 (by the artist’s granddaughter, Anna Maria Simpson).

before 1784
Painting with Josiah Wedgwood in 1785 (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, I, no.171). Apparently the portrait exhibited as 'Portrait of an Artist', Robins’s Rooms 1785 (20).

c.1785
Painting, see NPG 4090.

1793
Painting, half length, grey hair and grey coat. Untraced, painred for Thomas Gisborne of Yoxall (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, no.172); pose and head similar to NPG 4090, but the figure aged by the thinning grey hair. A copy (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, I, fig.9) in a private collection, differing in not showing shirt frills,bears an inscription verso doubtless copied from the original: Iosephus Wright,/Anno Dom: 1793/Aetat:59:/Manu propriâ./Tabulam hanc/Amico suo T. G[isborne added]/Dono dedit/Pictor.

By other Artists
c.1772
Miniature attributed to Samuel Cotes. Private collection.

c.1776?
Painting attributed to Richard Hurlston, half length with turban, closely resembling the self portrait of c.1772-73, with a night view of an erupting Vesuvius. Yale Center for British Art (B1981.25.369). A larger version, from the Arkwright collection, sold Sotheby’s, 10 November 1993, lot 54, on loan in Derby Museum and Art Gallery in 1994.

1782
Painting by William Tate, half length, a roll of papers in his right hand. Kedleston (illus. B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, I, fig.134).

Doubtful Portraits
See NPG 29. Painting, half length, holding a large drawing of Wright’s Edwin [of 1777-78] (Royal College of Surgeons, London; on loan to Marble Hill, 2001). Drawings in the Yale Center for British Art (B1977.14.6320; illus. B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, I, p 46; see P. J. Noon, English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures, New Haven, 1979, no.72), Derby Museum and Art Gallery (B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1968, no.165), and ‘in the possession of John Britton’, engraved Graf & Soret as Wright of Derby. Etching, inscribed Wright of Derby; etched by himself (illus. J. Egerton et al., Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, London, Paris, New York, 1990, P38; engraved Blake for the Monthly Mag., Sept.1797); a related half-length painting was with J. M. Eardley Simpson in 1958.



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.