half length, wearing uniform
oil on canvas
This sensitive portrait of an unidentified officer was painted c. 1760-1762. By this date Wright had been working in Derby for three years since his second period of study in London with Thomas Hudson, and in 1760 he embarked on a tour of several Midland towns to the east of Derby, including Retford and Lincoln. Wright's training with Hudson had given him a confidence in painting costume and in choosing the correct pose for his sitter. But he was already showing how much further he had moved from the stiff formality of many of Hudson's portraits. The lively intelligent face of the officer has a presence lacking in Wright's earlier portraits and looks forward to the Markeaton portraits painted only a few years later. As Benedict Nicolson commented "even at this stage (1760) he was pushing beyond the limits of Hudson's instruction, to grope at naturalism."
There were several portraits of hitherto untraced officers listed in the artists account books for c.1760 - Captains Bailey, Heathcote and Sherring painted in Derby and Captain Blunt painted in Retford. This portrait may well be one of these.
We are grateful to David Fraser for his assistance in cataloguing this portrait and for confirming the attribution to Wright on the basis of a photograph.