John Inigo Wright (d.1820)
Wright worked on both rectangular and oval shaped ivory and, as with the present work, the faces of his sitters tend to show a powerful resonance with the larger works of Thomas Lawrence.
The boy in this portrait miniature is unidentified but is likely to relate to a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence, whose work was frequently translated into miniature by Wright. It is closest in composition to an unfinished portrait by Lawrence of Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, Duke of Reichstadt, later Napoleon II...
John Inigo Wright exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1795-1819, the majority of his work being copies after large oil paintings. Rather than woodenly aping the image he was copying; Wright evoked the energy and painterly vigour of his fellow oil portraitists. His close affiliation with these large oil portraits suggests that he enjoyed a close working relationship with society artists, offering their patrons a similarly lively depiction ‘in little’.
Wright worked on both rectangular and oval shaped ivory and, as with the present work, the faces of his sitters tend to show a powerful resonance with the larger works of Thomas Lawrence. Wright’s assertion that he was painter to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820), is only substantiated by a miniature in the Royal Collection of his patron [RCIN 421041] and may have been an informal appointment. Edward, Duke of Kent was the father of Queen Victoria and the fourth son of George III.
Much of Wright’s life remains a mystery, including his exact date of birth, but it is certain that he married twice; his first wife died whilst giving birth to his first son, John William Wright. Wright committed suicide the same year as the death of the Duke of Kent in 1820, leaving a legacy of works portraying the leading figures of the day in his distinctive hand.