National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Alina Cade in memory of her husband Joseph Wright Cade, 2009
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
18th Century Decorative Arts & Paintings Gallery Level 2, NGV International
Wright and his wife Ann had six children, two of whom died in infancy. Anna Romana (1774–1837), their eldest daughter, was born in Rome during the Wrights’ two-year stay in Italy. This recently re-discovered portrait of her was painted around 1795 when Wright was considered the undisputed master of the ‘candlelight picture’. Wright gained a reputation for employing dramatic lighting contrasts to convey a sense of the ‘sublime’ in nature, understood in his own age as a mysterious and awe-inspiring source of power. Here, however, Wright has shown a more introverted example to suggest the intimate – and even spiritual – atmosphere created by a single flame.
Unknown - 18th century
Timber moulding, composition and gold leaf.
The pair of paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby that came into the collection as a gift in 2009 from one of the painters descendants living in Melbourne, came with what are credibly believed to be the original eighteenth century English frames in which they would have originally been presented. Having stayed with the family the frames and paintings are unlikely to have been separated. They represent a simple, less expensive form of framing available to English artists in the later part of the eighteenth century. The frame on Anna Romana Wright reading by candlelight carries runs of ornament which give it a more decorative presence than the frame on the Self Portrait.
The painting was cleaned and restored in 2010.