A Gentleman (possibly Brooke Boothby)

Joseph Wright of Derby A.R.A., 1734 - 1797

A Gentleman (possibly Brooke Boothby)

Joseph Wright of Derby A.R.A. 1734 - 1797


Portrait of young, eighteenth-century man, forward-facing with his head turned to the right. He is depicted wearing a wig with curls above the ears, a grey coat unbuttoned at the collar with a pink lining, shirt cuffs visible at the wrist, and a stock round his neck. He leans forward slightly to rest his arms on a ledge in the lower foreground and places his left hand on top of a book. The background is dark and without detail. Re-consideration of this portrait has resulted in a change in its title in 2021 from 'A Gentleman' to 'A Gentleman (possibly Brooke Boothby)'. Boothby (1744-1824), was a Derbyshire gentleman, amateur poet and philosopher. He became well-known as a champion of French philopsher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was 22 when he first met Rousseau, who spent fifteen months from 1776-7 at Wootton Lodge, Staffordshire, not far from Boothby's home. This portrait seems to have been painted at a similar time, possibly during the period when its painter was resident in Liverpool (1768-71). Boothby was one of Wright's most important patrons, and there is a good chance that this is one of the previously unidentified commissions from him.

Display Label

A Gentleman about 1777-80 Joseph Wright of Derby 1734-1797 Oil on canvas The identity of this sitter is unknown. The painting can, however, be dated by the costume and by comparison with other Wright portraits of the same period. The subject is portrayed as a man of learning. Not only does he hold a book, but he marks his page as if suffering only a brief interruption. Wright is best known for landscapes and interiors but portraiture remained his chief source of income. The artist trained under Thomas Hudson, the most fashionable portraitist of the 1740s and 50s. Purchased 1901.5

Object Name

A Gentleman (possibly Brooke Boothby)

Date Created



Canvas: 76.5cm x 64cm
framed (approx): 89.5cm x 74.2cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G18] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 18
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