(b. 1734, Derby, d. 1797, Derby)
A Philosopher Lecturing with a Mechanical Planetary1766
Oil on canvas, 147,3 x 203,2 cm
Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby
Like other artists, Joseph Wright went to Italy, but he was more interested in its natural effects than its art. It is apt that he should be known as Wright of derby, for it was there that he was to find pioneers of science and industry who provided him with subject-matter and with patrons. His is a provincial milieu, with serious rather than sophisticated interests, more doggedly bourgeois than the capital, and still optimistic about the benefits of progress. As Hogarth has been the initiator of 'la peinture morale', so Wright was the initiator, and the finest exponent, of the century's final contribution to genre: the industrial picture.