WRIGHT, Joseph
(b. 1734, Derby, d. 1797, Derby)

Earthstopper at the Bank of Derwent

Oil on canvas, 97 x 121 cm
Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby

Wright studied under Thomas Hudson in London. In 1771 he became a member of the Society of Art and in 1784 of the Royal Academy. A visit to Italy, 1773-1775, gave him the opportunity to study the old masters. Caravaggio and his followers seem to have fascinated him particularly as shown in his later work with its dramatic light contrasts. On his return to England he tried briefly to set up a portrait practice in Bath, but then went back to Derby where he remained. Although primarily a portraitist, he also worked on his discovery of the scientific genre painting. He developed an understanding of how to refine the effect of lighting in order to bring emotion into an apparently objective atmosphere. In landscapes, too, he was innovative in his use of light sources.