Liverpool Walker Art Gallery Artwork of the Month – December, 2007
‘Portrait of Peter Perez Burdett, and his Wife Hannah Burdett’, by Joseph Wright of Derby
About the artwork
This superb painting, a masterpiece of British portraiture in the late eighteenth-century, is on loan to the Walker from the National Gallery of the Czech Republic, Prague. It is only the second time the work has been seen in the UK since it left the country in 1774, on Burdett’s departure from Liverpool.
Dated 1765, the portrait depicts Burdett with his older wife Hannah. Peter Perez Burdett was a mapmaker engaged on a prize-winning survey of Derbyshire. He met Wright in Derby in the early 1760s and became his close friend: the artist lent him money to fund his mapping project and used him as a model in several of the celebrated candlelight pictures he made at that period (including the Three Persons Viewing The Gladiator also on view in this exhibition) while Burdett introduced Wright to prospective patrons and gave him advice about perspective. Much less is known about Hannah although she may have been the wealthy widow of a merchant from the Midlands. But even if we knew nothing at all about the two people portrayed, the relationship between them is clearly at the centre of the painting, and we may deduce a considerable amount about their characters from the way that Wright depicts them.
Joseph Wright of Derby in Liverpool
Saturday, November 17, 2007 – Sunday, February 24, 2008