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