Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA, Portrait sketch of James Wright

Portrait sketch of James Wright, after 1811

Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA (1769 - 1830)

RA Collection: Art

A pencil sketch of the head and shoulders of James Wright, viewed from the front with his head turned slightly to the right. Lawrence portrayed the young man with a melancholy expression like that of a tragic hero in a history painting. Miss Elizabeth Croft explained the story behind this drawing in her recollections of the artist:

'A poor young man at Stratford was taken up and tried for coining, into which he was led by some well-known coiners in consequence of being a coach-harness-plater, which made him useful in their practices. It was proved that he had never seen the men till about half-an-hour before he was taken up' but this did not prevent his being condemn'd to death! We were all deeply interested about it, but could have done nothing without Sir Thomas's aid. After much trouble and labour he did succeed by the aid of Lord Sidmouth in getting his sentence commuted to transportation for life. He not only supplied this poor fellow with means of comfort on his voyage, but paid the passage of his wife to follow him, and even made a slight drawing of him (now in Mr Keightley's possession) for the consolation of his family. By obtaining letters to the Governor of Botany Bay, and by his excellent conduct, this same James Wright rose to situations of trust and confidence and continued to write the most grateful and satisfactory letters to Sir Thomas, till he was deprived of his generous and indefatigable patron in January 1830' (G. S. Layard, Sir Thomas Lawrence's Letter-Bag, London 1906, p. 255) .

Object details

Portrait sketch of James Wright
after 1811
Object type
Pencil on wove paper

222 mm x 153 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
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