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Joseph Wright 'of Derby', Mr and Mrs Thomas Coltman

Key facts
Full title Mr and Mrs Thomas Coltman
Artist Joseph Wright 'of Derby'
Artist dates 1734 - 1797
Date made about 1770-2
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 127 × 101.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Pilgrim Trust, 1984
Inventory number NG6496
Location Room 35
Collection Main Collection
Mr and Mrs Thomas Coltman
Joseph Wright 'of Derby'

Born in 1747, Thomas Coltman inherited Hagnaby Priory, near East Kirkby in Lincolnshire, in 1768. He and his wife Mary Barlow are portrayed here probably a year or so after their marriage in October 1789. The couple can also be seen in Wright’s great painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (also in the National Gallery), exhibited in 1768.

The informality of the portrait suggests that Wright and the Coltmans were on friendly terms. Coltman rented a house in Derby from Wright and owned two other paintings by him. Both Mr and Mrs Coltman look relaxed and natural, about to set out on a morning ride. The landscape background is studied from nature – Wright painted his first pure landscape at about the same time.

A groom leads Coltman’s bay horse from stables behind the house. This is Gate Burton Hall, which Coltman rented after his marriage while continuing to rent the house in Derby from Wright.

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