Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Elizabeth Rastall 1760

Joseph Wright of Derby ARA 1734 - 1797

Portrait of Elizabeth Rastall, Joseph Wright of Derby ARA
Oil on canvas
18th Century
30 x 25 inches 76.2 x 63.5 cm
Family descent.
Benedict Nicholson ''Joseph Wright of Derby'', reproduction of Wright`s Account book p.218. Burlington Magazine CXXIV ,1982, Article by William Hood, p.156 fig.37. Tate Gallery Exhibition Catalogue, 1990, Wright of Derby. See Judy Egerton`s entries for nos 19 & 20.
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Timothy and Elizabeth Rastall, painted around the year 1760 by Joseph Wright, are excellent examples of the artist`s work at that time. Emerging from his pupillage with the fashionable London portrait painter, Thomas Hudson, Wright shows his master`s influence in the portrait of Elizabeth Rastall. The floating diaphonous veil clearly reflects Hudson`s pre-occupation with the mannerisms of the French rococco style, and indeed the colour scheme of bright blues and greys are also clues to the same influence. However, the very honest and unflattering portrayal of her face is entirely due to Wright`s belief in painting things as he saw them, and is a hallmark of all his best portraiture.

When we look at Timothy Rastall, that tendency is even more marked. here is undeniably a face typical of the straightforward midland business stock from which Rastall came. His family were for two centuries to fill the first offices of the corporation and Wright`s portrait is unabashedly direct. In this he can clearly be seen to take his place as a prominent link in that chain of very English portraiture, which leads from Hogarth in the early 18th century to the realists of the following century. The Rastalls clearly favoured Wright, and around 1762-4 he painted portraits of their two sons, Samuel and William. A ''Mr Rastall'' also appears among sitters in the mid 1780s.
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