Now representing: the Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Some of Joseph Wright's most famous images are available at Bridgeman for licencing now.

Widow of an Indian Chief (detail), 1785 by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) / Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK
Widow of an Indian Chief (detail), 1785 by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) / Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK

 



Derby Museum and Art Gallery is home to a diverse range of collections. Undoubtedly one of their most significant is the collection of the city’s greatest artist: Joseph Wright of Derby. His paintings are now instantly accessible and available for image licensing via the Bridgeman website.
 
 
The painter
 
Joseph Wright, born in 1734, became one of the most important painters of the late 18th century. A landscape and portrait painter, Wright is best known for his dramatic depictions of scientific experiments and demonstrations which came to define the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
 
 

 

The Orrery, c.1766 (oil on canvas) by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) / Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK
The Orrery, c.1766 (oil on canvas) by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) / Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK

 

 

The Alchymist, 1771 (oil on canvas) by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) / Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK
The Alchymist, 1771 (oil on canvas) by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) / Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK

 

 
 
 
Enlightenment
 
The city of Derby was significant in the eighteenth century for its role in the Enlightenment, and Wright’s engagement with scientific subject matter may have been influenced by the lectures and demonstrations of travelling scientists held at Derby Town Hall in the 1750s and 1760s.
 
One of Wright’s most captivating paintings, The Orrery (1766), is considered a masterpiece of British art. The painting depicts a contemporary scene of a scientific lecture. A red-gowned philosopher demonstrates movement of the planets around the sun using a clockwork model known as an Orrery.
 
Chiaroscuro
 
Wright is renowned for his use of chiaroscuro (the use of strong contrasts between light and dark), seen in another of his most famous works, The Alchymist (1771). Wright’s alchemist, in search of the elusive Philosopher’s Stone, kneels before a flask and watches in awe as phosphorus gas is released.
 
 
 

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