Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Joseph Wright (England, 1734-97)


Figure 1.--The Synnot children were painted in 1781. They are the children of Walter Synnot of County Armagh in Ireland. They are Maria, Walter and Marcus. The boys appear to be wearing early versions of a skeleton suit, but with knee breeches. Note that one boy wears a pink suit.

Joseph Wright is sometimes referred to as Wright of Derby. He was an inovative paintr who is noted for the artistic treatment of industrial subjects. He lived and workjed in Derby which was at the centr of England's industial develoment. He is also knon as particularly gifted in his ability to depict artificial light. He did several notable portraits, including some of children. Both the industrial paintings and portraits help provide us fascinating glimses of English life in the late 18th century, including fashions.

Parents


Childhood

He lived and workjed in Derby which was at the centr of England's industial develoment.

Education

Wright trained as a portrait painter in the studio of Thomas Hudson during the 1750s. He did several several excellent portraits, often of industrialists and their famlilies--including some of the children.

Career

He was an inovative paintr who is noted for the artistic treatment of industrial subjects. He is also knonw as particularly gifted in his ability to depict artificial light. Some of his depictions in industril settings are done by moonlight or candlelight. The scenes are a novel mixture of machinery of the new industril age in a rather romantic setting. His industrial painting date from 1763 and include "The Air Pump" and "Orrery". One of his most noted worls is "The Alchymist in Search of the Philosophers' Stone Discovers Phosphorus," (1771) which exhibits a particulary brilliant use of artificil light.

Portraits

Wright did numerous portraits of important industrialists in Derby and he surrunding area. We note two portraits of children, but thee are probablt more. The fashions show he early dvlopment of skton suits, but ith knee breches rather than long pants.

The Synnot Children (1781)

The Synnot children were painted in 1781. They are the children of Walter Synnot of County Armagh in Ireland. They are Maria, Walter and Marcus. The children are depicted innocently at play. Some art historians suggest that the depiction symbolizes the concerns of many Enlightenment writers about a child's innosence and spirit using the metaphor of freeing a caged bird. The boys appear to be wearing early versions of a skeleton suit, but with knee breeches. Note that one boy wears a pink suit. Both boys have long hair, one boy's hair is very curly. Another generation of Synnot Children very differently dressed was painted by George Richmond.


Figure 2.--Wright painted the children of Hugh and Sarah Wood of Swanwick, Derbyshire in 1789. We do not know the names of the children. Two are clearly boys in early skeleton suits. Presumably the third child is a girl, but girl are not usually depicted playing with cricket balls.

The Wood Children

Wright painted the children of Hugh and Sarah Wood of Swanwick, Derbyshire in 1789. We do not yet know the names of the children. This is a fascinating 18th century portrait showing the great interest in cricket. Note the small-sized cricket bat. Also note that the child in the dress is playng with the ball. Presumably the third child is a girl, but girl are not usually depicted playing with cricket balls. The child wears a white dress and pink sash. The two other children are boys dressed in early skelton suits with knee breeches. The boys wear ruffled open collars which appear to have been very common with these skleton suits. French children at this time were wearing skeleton suits with long pants, but knee breeches seemed more common in the late 18th century England. The boys wear long hair, very similar to the way French boys were depicted at the sam etime.





Christopher Wagner





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Created: My 20, 2002
Last updated: May 20, 2002