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Self-Portrait in a Fur Cap

Black, gray pastel portrait of man in a fur hat.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Black, gray pastel portrait of man in a fur hat.




Joseph Wright of Derby
English, 1734-1797

About this artwork

Joseph Wright, a leading artist of the eighteenth century, spent most of his life in the central Midlands town of Derby, where he ran a successful portrait-painting practice. His best work in this vein portrays solid middle-class citizens, much like himself, with a keen perceptiveness of both character and physical appearance. Throughout his career, Wright was preoccupied with the evocative effects of light, specifically those produced by a single light source such as a candle, and the resulting play of shadows. Influenced by the powerful chiaroscuro of the superb mezzotints of Thomas Frye, a contemporary printmaker, Wright produced a number of dramatically lit self-portraits in oil, charcoal, and black-and-white pastel during the mid-1760s. Depicting himself in nocturnal lighting, wearing an exotic black hat, the artist evoked a time-honored tradition in portraiture: the deeply pensive artist who confronts himself and the viewer with a quiet challenge. Wright later ventured into landscape and genre subjects, the most original of which are concerned with the exploration of light phenomena. Portrait commissions continued to be a reliable source of income throughout his career.


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Prints and Drawings


Joseph Wright of Derby


Self-Portrait in a Fur Cap


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Monochrome pastel (grisaille) on blue-gray laid paper


Not signed


42.5 × 29.5 cm (16 3/4 × 11 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

Clarence Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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