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  1. #1
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    Wright's Chieftain Paintings as Documents of Early Gaelic Dress.

    Members with a historical interest may be interested in this detailed analysis of John Michael Wright's paintings of the Highland chieftain (1683) and Irish chieftain (1680). Many rare sources and images cited.

    https://www.wildeirishe.com/post/wri...-two-paintings

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  3. #2
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    Thank you so much for this fantastic read. Very interesting piece.

    Cheers.

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    A very interesting read. The author is clearly more interested and knowledgeable about Irish Dress rather than Highland Dress. There are a couple of errors; firstly, there are 3, not 2, versions of the portrait of Lord Mungo Murray. Secondly, it was the late kilt historian Bob Martin who identified the drawstring in the Murray portrait. That was in the 1990s.

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    A very interesting read. The author is clearly more interested and knowledgeable about Irish Dress rather than Highland Dress. There are a couple of errors; firstly, there are 3, not 2, versions of the portrait of Lord Mungo Murray. Secondly, it was the late kilt historian Bob Martin who identified the drawstring in the Murray portrait. That was in the 1990s.
    Thanks figheadair--Correct on all counts. While I am aware of the second full length and smaller "helmeted" versions of Mungo Murray, I focused on the cleaner version. Jane Fenlon's research showed two full-lengths owned by the Duke of Ormond, and one of Neill O'Neill. There is a smaller version of Neill O'Neill as well. Perhaps I should have mentioned Bob Martin, who I have corresponded with, but I knew Matthew Newsome had published the drawstring hypothesis, albeit giving credit to Bob Martin. Fair points all--but I was already stretching it for a blog post!

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  8. #5
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    Fascinating read, thank you for the link.

    There is always SO much more to learn....

  9. #6
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    He doesn't really address what I would want to know about, the provenance of the various paintings as can be determined by the paintings themselves as artifacts.

    He mentions that on the back of "Irish Chieftain" painting is

    "Wright’s signature Wright Londsis Pictor Regius/pinxit. 1680"

    I have several questions. I'm no expert on Wright and I don't know if that's the way he signed his paintings.

    If it is the way he signed his paintings, has an expert determined that the writing matches other examples of Wright's signature?

    Without such a determination the attribution could have been written by anyone at any time.

    The author of the article (unless I missed it) doesn't say anything about signatures on the other paintings.

    I will say that the four different (unique) paintings, the Irish Chieftain, the Scottish Highlander, the Actor, and the woman they show in black & white all appear to be by a very skilled painter. Moreover there's a similarity in facial structure and features that the paintings share- there's a saying that "artists tend to paint themselves". Also in the oldfashioned art teaching system artists were trained to draw/paint an "archetype" face and many would tend to skew whoever they painted towards this archetype.

    Nevertheless I wonder why the author takes for granted that the Highland paintings were painted by Wright. Are they signed? How are they signed? That's what I would like to know more about.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 19th February 21 at 09:40 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  10. #7
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    Hello Richard, thanks for reading. True, I don't go too deep into provenance, but the sources are cited at the end of the article. The Burlington Magazine is where both identifications were published (Farr on O'Neill, Fenlon on Murray). The signature on the O'Neill claims he is "King's Painter," Pictor Regius. He had painted the king, but held no such appointment, and this is a claim Wright makes about himself on other signed paintings. Plenty of surviving handwriting samples for Farr to work from. I know of no signature being located on the Kelvingrove painting of Mungo Murray, which it the one I focused on, though it seems to have been cleaned? Wright is pretty well studied--do look into the Burlington articles if interested. My bit was a focus on the clothing as something more than fancy dress. Cheers.

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