Joseph Wright (1734–97)

Wright of Derby, as he is styled after his birthplace, is known for his interest in the growth of science, and his studies of the effect of light and its source. Many of his paintings show his subjects by candle-light. After working in Derby and London he travelled to Italy and spent almost two years there from 1773, during which time he visited Naples. He painted the eruption of Vesuvius over 30 times in his lifetime.

Wright had extensive contacts with the new industrialists of the Midlands; Wedgwood was one of his most important patrons. He also had connections with Erasmus Darwin and other members of the Lunar Society, which brought together leading industrialists, scientists, and philosophers. Wright spent his latter years working in Derbyshire and his paintings of Dovedale appealed to Lunar men like Josiah, who journeyed there when searching for rocks, fossils and clays.

 

Images

Joseph Wright of Derby presented his View of Dovedale in Derbyshire, painted in 1787, to Josiah Wedg, © Wedgwood Museum

Joseph Wright of Derby presented his View of Dovedale in Derbyshire, painted in 1787, to Josiah Wedg
© Wedgwood Museum