WRIGHT, Joseph
(b. 1734, Derby, d. 1797, Derby)

Indian Widow

1785
Oil on canvas, 102 x 127 cm
Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby

Wright had never crossed the Atlantic, but reading James Adair's History of the American Indians (1775) he had found an account of the vigil kept by the widow of a brave 'for the first moon ... under his mourning war-pole', and had painted his Widow of an Indian Chief to join three other pictures of women empowered by virtue, love or loyalty.

In this picture the Native American's bearing is that of an antique statue, while the stormy shore with its volcano has more to do with Naples, which Wright had seen as a young man, than with America.