Wright of Derby - in Bath

January 9 2014

Image of Wright of Derby - in Bath

Picture: Holburne Museum

Poor Joseph Wright of Derby - a first rank British artist, deserving international status, unfairly stuck with a provincial appellation. A new exhibition at the Holburne museum in Bath (25th Jan-5th May) will soon examine the time when he was Joseph Wright of Bath (between 1775-77). From the Holburne website:

Wright came to Bath to paint portraits, hoping to build on the success of Thomas Gainsborough who had recently left for London. The exhibition will include the three remaining portraits that the artist certainly made in Bath, including his painting of the elderly Rev. Thomas Wilson with the young daughter of Catharine Macaulay, the radical historian.

Whilst in Bath Wright worked up landscape studies he had made in Italy, producing spectacular views of Vesuvius in Eruption and the dazzling firework displays of Rome, the highlight of a visit to the artist's studio in Brock Street. It was whilst in Bath that he first began to explore subjects from sentimental contemporary literature, which in turn have a strong impact on his portrait composition, and the exhibition will include some of his most beautiful depictions of figures alone in the landscape.

The Holburne will also have a Wright study day on Monday 24th February, which looks interesting:

The Holburne Museum will bring together speakers from a variety of disciplines including regional historian Peter Borsay, Joseph Wright expert Stephen Daniels and the conservator Rica Jones to examine in greater depth Wright's little-known Bath period and its contexts. The morning session will explore the cultural life of Bath in the 1770s through recent historical research and ask whether Wright's place in this complex and creative society has been misunderstood. In the afternoon the focus will turn to other places: Derbyshire, Liverpool, Italy and the London exhibition galleries, and their influence on the artist's life and work.

More information here. The exhibition, which has been sponsored by the London-based dealer Lowell Libson, will travel to Derby Museum and Art Gallery after the Holburne. 

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