Sir Richard Arkwright by Joseph Wright of Derby

This is a compelling portrait of the engineer, inventor and entrepreneur Richard Arkwright (1732-1792); a fascinating and complex self-made man who is remembered as the father of the factory system on which the Industrial Revolution was based.


Oil on canvas
126 x 102 cm
Art Fund grant:
£100,000 ( Total: £420,000)
Acquired in:
Private collection

He was born in Preston, the son of a poorly educated taylor. He invented the cotton-spinning frame in Preston in 1768. This enterprise made Arkwright extremely rich and helped elevate his family to the aristocracy. This portrait is an unparalleled exploration of the more private side of this pioneer of the Industrial Revolution. The painting has been jointly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston. This work was purchased with an Art Fund grant and additional support from Judith and Nicholas Goodison.


Probably commissioned by Arkwright's daughter, Susannah Hurt; by descent.

Venue details

National Portrait Gallery St Martin's Place, LONDON London WC2H 0HE 020 7306 0055

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