Joseph Wright of Derby chronicled his personal and professional life in a group of insightful self-portraits. He painted at least seven of these highly personal works, which he kept until his death. Wright seems to have painted one every ten years, and this is the second in that ‘series’ made in his early thirties. At this time Wright was approaching the height of his fame for his conversation pieces and ‘candlelight pictures’. In these inventive works he recorded scientific developments of the Industrial Revolution in scenes lit with evocative light from candles or fires. This work has long been out of public view, last being shown at the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition of 1888.