Frances, daughter of Peter Bold of Bold Hall, Prescot, married Fleetwood Hesketh in 1759. As befitting a member of one of the best established of Lancashire families who claimed a lineage from before the Norman Conquest, her portrait is more formal than that of her husband. The devices of balustrade and urn lend the setting an air of grandeur but more importantly create a solid rectilinear framework for the design which is reinforced by the uprightness of Mrs. Hesketh’s pose. Wright’s evident difficulties with the nearly-but-not-quite-profile pose add flavour to the forthright, but conventional and sober character of the work.


  • Title: Mrs Frances Hesketh
  • Creator: Joseph Wright (of Derby)
  • Date Created: 1769
  • tag / style: Portrait; gown; book; tree; woman; balustrade; urn; Mrs Frances Hesketh; Joseph Wright of Derby; formal; grandeur; pose
  • Physical Dimensions: w1015 x h1270 cm (Without frame)
  • Artwork History: The painting passed by descent through Fleetwood Hesketh’s (the sitter’s husband) 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: This painting was the subject of an ‘Artwork Highlight’ talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2003. To read the notes from this talk please follow thsi link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=21 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 assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the Friends of National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside and the Hope Fund

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