Rediscovered Joseph Wright of Derby self-portrait goes on display
Source:theguardian Author:Maev Kennedy Date: 2017-08-10 Size:
A quiet painting of a reflective man in a modest brown coat has been newly ……

Detail from the newly attributed Joseph Wright of Derby self-portrait.Photograph: Parker Gallery

A quiet painting of a reflective man in a modest brown coat has been newly identified as a lost self-portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby – better known for dramatic scenes lit by candle or moonlight or the glare of an erupting volcano.

“It’s a very honest portrait, very much the kind of picture you might give to a friend,” said Archie Parker, the art dealer who recognised Wright immediately, wrongly catalogued as by a follower of Joshua Reynolds, and then spent months trying to prove it.

“He’s put in the jowls and the double chin, which any artist might have been tempted to tidy up a bit.”

Parker has form sorting genuine works from copies. He recently made headlines when an American institution, the Huntington Library in California, deaccessioned a painting of two horses, which under a soupy layer of discoloured varnish they believed was an undistinguished copy.

Parker hopped on a plane to New York, bought it at auction for $215,000 (£166,000), and subsequently proved it was a genuine work by the most revered equine artist of the 18th century, George Stubbs. Another art expert has called the Huntingdon’s expensive mistake one of the biggest deaccessioning blunders of all time.

The Joseph Wright painting had vanished since the late 19th century, moving through private collections in England and Canada before ending up in a saleroom in the Channel Islands.

It was known from a copy with a useful inscription in Latin, translated as “Joseph Wright the artist presented this painting by his own hand as a gift to his friend T Gisborne in the year of our lord 1763 and 59th of his age”.

Wright was originally commissioned to paint a portrait of Gisborne, a scholar who became an Anglican priest and a central figure in the movement to abolish slavery. Although Gisborne was almost 30 years his junior, the two men became firm friends.

When Gisborne inherited his father’s mansion at Yoxall in Staffordshire, surrounded by beautiful oak woodland, Wright was a frequent guest.

The painting will be exhibited – Parker believes for the first time – at the Lapada art and antiques fair in London in September.

Parker expects a torrent of men in brown coats all claimed as genuine Joseph Wrights.

“When you make this sort of identification, everyone with a painting in the attic immediately thinks they’ve got a masterpiece,” he said. “When we identified two Stubbs in 18 months, herds of horses poured in by every post.”

[Editor] 姜鑫

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