John Michael Wright
Portrait de Ann Suckling of Norfolk, c. 17th Century
Oil on canvas
27 ¾ x 34 inches, 70.5 x 86.5cm
The suggested sitter as Ann Suckling, daughter of Sir John Suckling, and wife of Sir John Davis of Pangbourne cannot be correct. However, Ann Suckling did have a daughter, also called Ann, who may well be the sitter. She was born 1630/1 and married, in 1656.
This highly original portrait is notable for being quite unlike the majority of English portraits of the period. Wright’s varied international inspirations give his works a certain irreverence that even today appears fresh and modern. Clearly, the picture borders on the erotic – at least by seventeenth century standards. A picture with a similar theme by Wright’s contemporaries would have subsumed the sitter’s deshabillé pose into an ideal of beauty, and turned the sitter into a Restoration goddess. Wright’s talent for realism, with depth and density in the drapery, that manages to convey a true sense of revelation, with the charged atmosphere heightened by blushing flesh tones. More on this painting
John Michael Wright (May 1617 – July 1694) was a portrait painter in the Baroque style. Described variously as English and Scottish, Wright trained in Edinburgh under the Scots painter George Jamesone, and acquired a considerable reputation as an artist and scholar during a long sojourn in Rome. There he was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, and was associated with some of the leading artists of his generation. He was engaged by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, to acquire artworks in Oliver Cromwell's England in 1655. He took up permanent residence in England from 1656, and served as court painter before and after the English Restoration. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he was a favourite of the restored Stuart court, a client of both Charles II and James II, and was a witness to many of the political maneuverings of the era. In the final years of the Stuart monarchy he returned to Rome as part of an embassy to Pope Innocent XI. More on John Michael Wright
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