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.

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.

Back to top