John Michael Wright was a baroque portrait painter. Born in London in 1617, he was trained in Scotland by painter George Jamesone and went on to spend much of his career in Rome, Italy. He was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca (Academy of Saint Luke), an association of artists in Rome. It was there he really made a name for himself, rubbing elbows with some of the leading artists of the time. He returned to England in 1656 and became the go-to portrait painter for the rich and noble.
Reviewing his art, especially his English portraits, there is one theme that repeats itself. The Pearl Necklace! Mr. Wright paints a majority of his subjects in a choker style pearl necklace. Did he possess this necklace and ask his subjects to wear it or did he just add it to the portraits? I would love to know the story behind John Michael Wright’s pearl necklace. Take a look at the many women wearing this necklace.
I am a modern day treasure hunter who travels the world for gorgeous pearls and amazing adventures. I own a pearl jewelry and jewelry repair business, ThePearlGirls.com, with a cute retail store in Athens, GA. I also have a Pearl Travel business and travel blog at TheWorldofPearl.com.
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2 Replies to “John Michael Wright’s Pearl Necklace”
To be honest, the pearl necklace was a de rigeur piece of jewellery in fashionable Restoration England, so I would say that all of Wright’s ladies possessed such a piece. Note also how in the portraits of the early 1660s, the sitters nearly all have pearls wired into their hairstyles.
De rigueur, I have had fun googling that one! Per m-w, necessary if you want to be fashionable, popular, socially acceptable, etc. I think pearls should always be de rigueur but maybe, just maybe, I am biased! 🙂 I love pearls in the hair too but I still cannot imagine that each of these women had their own natural pearl necklace. Clearly they must have all been from rich families but were pearls even accessible enough to be available to all of these women? I wonder…