Joseph Wright of Derby

Three Children of Richard Arkwright with a Goat


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Not on display

Joseph Wright of Derby 1734–1797
Oil paint on canvas
Unconfirmed: 1905 × 1499 mm
frame: 2180 × 1770 × 120 mm
Lent from a private collection 2007
On long term loan

Display caption

The lively children in this portrait are grandchildren of the industrial entrepreneur, Richard Arkwright. The composition is a wry take on classical bacchanalian scenes of putti riding goats, a motif that was popularised especially in the 17th-century sculpture of Francois Duquesnoy. It is known, however, that the Arkwright family kept a herd of goats. The painting was one of a series of full-size family portraits made by Wright to hang in the Arkwright family home at Bakewell, Derbyshire. Collectively, such portraits exhibited the family’s cultivation and, in their monumental scale, its dynastic ambitions.

Gallery label, February 2016

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