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 Joseph Wright  (1756 - 1793)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/New York/New Jersey      Known for: portrait and figure painting, sculpture, etching

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Joseph Wright
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of Benjamin Frank
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A portraitist in oils and wax and also a worker in medal, Joseph Wright was best known for his portraits of George Washington and his wife, Martha, made possible around 1783 by recommendations to the Washingtons from Benjamin Franklin.  Wright did two types of Washington portraits, three-quarter length busts, which are at the Maryland and Pennsylvania Historical Societies, and profile busts, one of which is in the Cleveland Museum.  He also modeled a clay bust of Washington.

Joseph Wright was born in Bordentown, New Jersey, and then moved as a young man to New York City in 1769 after the death of his father.  From there he went to London, England and studied with his artist mother, Patience Lovell Wright, who had been there since 1772.  He also studied with his uncle, John Hoppner, and with well-known American expatriate artist, Benjamin West.

In 1782, he traveled to Paris and then returned to America in 1783, settling in Philadelphia.  He painted a famous likeness of George Washington, at Rocky Hill, near Princeton, New Jersey, in the autumn of 1783.  The remainder of his short career was spent in New York and in Philadelphia, where he enlarged his small Washington likeness to meet the demands for life-size images.   In 1792, he took on medal and coin design commissions from the U.S. government, but the next year he died from yellow fever in Philadelphia.


Sources include:
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Melissa Clemmer, "Art is long and Time is short", The Magazine Antiques, November 2006, pp. 128

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