Collection Online

(Anna Romana Wright reading by candlelight)
(c. 1795)

oil on canvas on canvas
75.2 × 62.2 cm (image) 76.2 × 63.5 cm (canvas)
Place/s of Execution
Derby, Derbyshire, England
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
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
Gallery location
17th to 18th Century European 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.