attributed to Joseph Wright of Derby

Study of an Unknown Man


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Attributed to Joseph Wright of Derby 1734–1797
Chalk on paper
Support: 456 × 280 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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Previously thought to be a seventeenth-century portrait sketch, this drawing is now attributed to Joseph Wright of Derby. Recent analysis of the paper has shown that it dates from the period c.1747-57, making the earlier identification impossible. It is now believed to be a studio drawing executed by Wright while a student in the London studio of the portrait painter Thomas Hudson. It is probably a copy made after either a print or a painting by the seventeenth-century artist Sir Peter Lely. Copying the work of past masters was a recognised student exercise, and Hudson had a large collection of paintings, drawings and prints for Wright to make use of.

Gallery label, September 2004

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