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When Wright returned to England from Italy in September 1775, he renewed his focus on portraiture. He spent twenty months in fashionable Bath, attempting unsatisfactorily to establish his practice there. On his return to Derby in June 1777, he began painting this portrait of Richard Cheslyn of Langley Hall, Leicestershire, almost immediately. The resulting image is startling in its realism and penetration of character. Wright''s confident pictorial organisation owes a debt to the balanced sense of structure visible in Wright''s Italian landscapes. The chair acts as a framing device for the sitter, as a tree might enclose the edge of a lake or valley.

August 2004