Joseph Wright

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Wright, Joseph (1734–97). Painter, known as Wright of Derby, where he was born and spent most of his life. He earned a living as a portrait painter, while he experimented with the effects of light and industrial and scientific subjects, reflecting the interests of his day and earning him the patronage of Wedgwood and Arkwright. Two of his best-known works come from this period, A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (1766, Derby) and An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768, Tate). During the 1770s he travelled in Italy, less inspired by the great art than by an eruption of Vesuvius, which he painted eighteen times, and a Roman firework display. Although in 1775 Wright failed to replace Gainsborough in Bath, some of his best portraits come from the early 1780s, while in later life he concentrated more on landscape painting. His work is well represented in British galleries, especially at Derby.

June Cochrane

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Wright, Joseph (1734–97) English painter. He made a speciality of industrial and scientific subjects, most notably in An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768). Returning from time spent in Italy, Wright moved to Bath in 1775, hoping to emulate the success of Gainsborough. Disappointed in this, he settled in Derby, concentrating on poetic landscapes.