To Be Or Not To Be . . .

John Wright, 1810


Based close to London’s theatreland, it’s not surprising that actors and actresses frequented the studio of John Wright. And this rugged-looking gentleman in his dark cape and van-dyked collar was surely amongst them. Indeed he bears a certain resemblance to the actor and theatre-manager John Philip Kemble, brother to the famous Sarah Siddons. Kemble played many Shakespearean roles including, of course, Hamlet.

The portrait is signed on the reverse – – Jn Wright pinx / Burlington Gardens / corner of Old Bond / St 1810. It is set in a locket style gilt metal frame that is glazed on the reverse to reveal the artist’s signature.

Relatively little is known about the life of the artist John Inigo Wright who exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1795 and 1819. The New Times (8 March 1820) reported an inquest into his sudden death held at his lodgings, 54 Old Bond Street –

Saturday morning, about four o’clock, a noise was heard in the room where he slept; he was found in bed, but complained of having been restless all night. He did not get up; and at twelve o’clock he was found in his chamber, hanging by a cord from the tester of the bed. A surgeon was called in who attempted to bleed him, but without effect. Verdict: Lunacy

He was just 50 years of age. A sad loss of talent.

Item Ref. 7346

Size: framed, 66 x 58mm