Papers of Harold James Lean Wright, 1885-1961, art historian

Scope and Content

Includes Wright’s notes on a number of modern British artists, e.g. Muirhead Bone, D Y Cameron, Frank Benson, F L Griggs, and also a collection of materials forming the basis for Wright’s major work on Alphonse Legros, painter, etcher and sculptor, and friend of Courbet, Whistler and Manet; miscellaneous correspondence relating to Harold Wright archive; catalogues written by Wright.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harold James Lean Wright was born in 1885 in London, England. He was educated at the City of London School and joined the firm of Obach & Co in 1903. This firm was merged with the Art dealers P & D Colnaghi Ltd, London, in 1911 and Wright continued to work for Colnaghi's becoming a director in 1939 and became a recognised expert on early and modern prints.

Wright was a natural scholar and published many works - a translation and expansion of Delteil's catalogue of the etchings of Meryon (1924), and catalogues of the work of F L Griggs in collaboration with Campbell Dodgson (1941) and Sir William Russell Flint (1949) and numerous articles on modern etchers such as Rushbury, Nixon and Briscoe in Print Collector's Quarterly. In 1930 he lectured at the Royal Academy of Arts on the etchers Rembrandt, Meryon and James Whistler and again in 1939 on three earlier engravers which were published in the Society's journal.

He was greatly respected both in academic and trade circles for his integrity and careful scholarship. In 1957 Wright received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in recognition of his contributions to the study of etching and engraving, and for his services to the University in advising on its art collections. He died in 1961.

Source: Obituary The Times 1 March 1961


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information

Access is open, however an appointment may be required. Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Acquisition Information

Transfer : History of Art : 1975-1990 : ACCNs 4545, 4546, 4590

Purchase : Arts Artis : 1989 : ACCN 4526, 4527

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

Held by the family of Harold Wright and deposited with Glasgow University History of Art department by Isobel Wright c1962


None expected

Related Material

GB 637 ML MSS 515: Papers of Harold Wright (State Library of New South Wales, Mitchell Library)