The sitter came from a family of Lancashire landowners based around Southport who had merchant interests in Liverpool. He is seen here in hunting costume, with his gun and powder horn. Placed very close to the picture plane, strongly lit and meticulously observed, the figure has a vivid presence. Wright worked as a portraitist in Liverpool between 1768 and 1771. His presence in this rapidly expanding commercial city had enormous impact on local artists, and the portraits he produced in that time stand as classic examples of provincial artistic values fusing with burgeoning mercantile taste.


  • Title: Fleetwood Hesketh
  • Creator: Joseph Wright (of Derby)
  • Date Created: 1769
  • tag / style: Fleetwood Hesketh; Joseph Wright of Derby; hunting; gun; powder horn; hat; tree; wealthy
  • Physical Dimensions: w1020 x h1270 cm (Without frame)
  • Artwork History: The painting passed by descent through Hesketh’s descendants and their families until 1990
  • Artist biographical information: Joseph Wright of Derby played an important part in Liverpool‘s artistic history. Following an apprenticeship in London to the portraitist Thomas Hudson, Wright established from the late 1750s an extremely successful practice in his native Derby, with his literal and rather forthright portraits, often of leading Midland industrialists, and with his famous ‘candlelight’ views of scientific experiments. Between late 1768 and summer 1771 he was based in Liverpool where he depicted several of the port’s leading slave-owning merchants as well as wealthy landowners from the Lancashire hinterland. ‘Richard Gildart’, a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, ‘Fleetwood Hesketh of Meols’ and his wife ‘Frances Bold’, the coal heiress, are among the finest of this group. Wright was a friend of Joseph Tate, an early member of the sugar-plantation dynasty. Wright’s presence in Liverpool helped galvanise local artists and contributed to attempts to set up a local Academy.To find out more about this artist please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/online/featuredartists/josephwrightderby/index.aspx
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about this painting and the Walker Art Gallery’s 18th-century collection, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/18c/derby-hesketh.aspx Joseph Wright of Derby’s Liverpool portraits were the subject of an exhibition held at the Walker Art Gallery in 2007. Please follow this link to find out more: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/wrightofderby/
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1991 with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the Friends of National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside and the Hope Fund

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