George F. Wright (1828 – 1881)

A posthumous oil painting of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet by George F. Wright (1851)

George F. Wright was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1828.  He received a classical education and opened an art studio in Wallingford. In 1847, he moved to Hartford and accepted the position of custodian at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Wright’s artistic specialty was painting portraits. To perfect his craft, he studied at the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts in New York as well as with portraiture masters in Germany and Italy. His stellar reputation as a portrait artist resulted in him serving as the portrait artist for several Illinois and Connecticut governors. Many of his works are on display at the Museum of Connecticut History.

According to Wright, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president, portrait artists were clamoring to paint the new president’s portrait. Unable to accommodate separate seatings for the artists, Lincoln agreed to a free-for-all portrait session where artists could paint his portrait while he sat for them all. Story has it that of all the portraits done, Lincoln purchased only one – the one by George F. Wright – and presented it as a gift to family friends. The people who currently own the painting claim it was the only portrait completed in oil that Mr. Lincoln ever purchased.

Kentucky Historical Society. The Early Portraits of Lincoln. Accessed at on August 31, 2010.

Photo Credit: Oil Painting of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet by George F. Wright, Public Domain