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|How Bingley (or his father) might have appeared
Written by JulieW
(2/2/2004 7:44 a.m.)
The artist is Joseph Wright of Derby,a name familiar to thsse of us who participated in the GR of The Gentleman's Daughter ,as he painted teh portrait of Katherine Swannell used as the front cover illustration of the hardback edition of the book.
Now ,I am not saying that JA used the Akwright family as models fo the Bingley family.Certainly not! But what I am trying to illustrate here is the sort of scoial mobillity that took place during the 18th century as a result of the wealth earnt by technological innovatons during the "Industrial Revolution".
Cetainly the story of the Arkwright family echos that of the Bingleys- great wealth made by the father of the dynsty ,in the North in some from of trade, and eventualy the Arkwirght's money was invested and its origins "hidden" in the purchase of a great estate.Unfportunately I cannot find an illustration, on the net of the companion portarit to this one,which is intersting in itself(see belwo).
The portrait is in oil on canvas and measures 243 x 159 cm.
It shows Richard Arkwright junior, and his wife Mary with their
This family group portrait was the most ambitious of four paintings produced by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797) for the famous cotton manufacturer Sir Richard Arkwright (senior) in the 1780s and 1790s. It originally hung with the other three in the dining room at Willersley Castle, the family estate at Cromford.
When the estate was sold in 1993, the painting was loaned to Derby Museum and Art Gallery where it hung with its pendant, a portrait of Richard Arkwright senior.
The Arkwright family are synonymous with the development of
Richard Arkwright junior (1755-1843) equalled his father's
As a young man Arkwright junior began to lay the foundations of the fortune he was later to amass outside cotton spinning. His major investments were in Government stocks. He also acted as a banker to the gentry and the aristocracy, and continued his father's support for the improvement of the local transport infrastructure investing in the Cromford Canal, the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals and the Cromford and High Peak Railway. At the time of his death Arkwright's fortune was estimated at £3¼ million and he was described as 'the richest commoner in Europe'.
The artist, Joseph Wright, was a contemporary and near neighbour tomany extraordinary men of the Enlightenment. He also had links with the English Midland's intellectual fraternity, the core of which was The Lunar Society. These connections provided him with a wider philosophical understanding with which to interpret the heroic father figures and activities of the Industrial Revolution, embracing individuals such as the Arkwrights and Jedediah Strutt.
The four Arkwright portraits, commissioned by Sir Richard Arkwright,represent the only known series of family portraits painted by Wright. They are amongst the most familiar of all Wright's portraits,and have long been regarded as the outstanding culmination of his late style in portraiture. The portrait of Richard Arkwright with his Wife and Daughter is ambitious in size and highly successful incomposition. The grand scale of the portrait celebrates the wealth and status of Richard Arkwright and his family.
In the companion portraits of Sir Richard Arkwright, and of his son Richard, Joseph Wright charts the family's changing status.
Richard Arkwright senior is shown modestly dressed sitting on a fairly simple chair with spools of cotton at his side, still closely linked to his humble background. On the other hand, the portrait of his son, Richard Arkwright junior, shows the sitter as the established country landowner, assured with his fashionably dressed wife and daughter against the background of his park. Richard senior is shown with the origin of the family's wealth; Richard junior is shown with the fruits of its success consolidated.
I hope this is of interest.It cetainly shows that while JA had a fertile imagination, a lot of her imaginings were based on the sort of social mobility that could and indeed,did happen
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