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John Whetham of Kirklington
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Joseph Wright of Derby
English, about 1779 - 1780
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 in.
85.PA.221

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A landowner and country gentleman, John Whetham of Kirklington poses beside a border collie in front of a rocky background. He wears a green coat, a yellow waistcoat, and a fur hat and sash and holds a hunting spear. This costume, unusual for an Englishman, is a loose adaptation of a Hungarian hussar's military dress. Worn by John Whetham for a ball in 1779, this type of masquerade dress was also fashionable for portraits at the time, both because it forwarded the social aspirations of the English aristocracy and because it was timeless, outlasting changing styles.