John Michael Wright

A contemporary of Sir Peter Lely in England during the second half of the seventeenth century, Wright was a British born painter who was apprenticed in Edinburgh (although whether he was English or Scottish has been disputed), and later lived and worked in Rome. Unlike Dobson before him, he had the opportunity to travel and learn from some of the best Italian painters of the day, and was enrolled at the Academy of St Luke in Rome. Returning to England in 1655 or 1656, he worked as court painter both before and after the Restoration.*

Although Wright is not among my favourite painters of the period, I like the variety in his choice of sitters and themes, as shown below.

Charles II JMW
King Charles II, c.1661-1662, ©The Royal Collection


Catherine Dormer JMW
Lady Catherine Dormer (d.1659)


Willoughby Aston JMW
Sir Willoughby Aston, 2nd Baronet (1640-1702)


Mrs Salesbury
Mrs Salesbury with her grandchildren Edward and Elizabeth Bagot, c.1676
©Tate Collection


Neil ONeil JMW
Sir Neil O’Neil, 1680, ©The Tate Collection


7th Earl Pembroke JMW
Portrait of a boy, possibly Philip, 7th Earl of Pembroke, in the robes of the Order of the Bath


NPG 6854; John Dryden by John Michael Wright
John Dryden, poet and dramatist, c.1668

Mary Knatchbull
Mary Knatchbull (1610-1696)


Sir John Corbett JMW
Sir John Corbet of Adderley, c.1676, ©Yale Center for British Art


Thomas Hobbes JMW
Thomas Hobbes, c.1669-1670, ©National Portrait Gallery, London



*Further information on Wright can be found in “Painting in Britain, 1530-1790”, by Ellis Waterhouse (1994), p106-p110

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  1. ::flaps hands excitedly:: Wright is my favourite Restoration painter too! I much prefer his work to Lely or, later, Kneller, for instance. I love the coronation portrait; it’s probably my favourite portrait of Charles.


  2. I’ve just realised that Mick Aston of Time Team fame looked remarkably like Thomas Hobbes …



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