Saturday, 28 September 2013
' A Philosopher Lecturing on The Orrery ' Joseph Wright of Derby ( English 1734-1797) Oil on canvas, circa 1766. Derby Museum and Art Gallery , Derby , England.
In this picture showing a lecture centered on an Orrery, Joseph Wright of Derby uses the light of a candle in the place of the sun in the orrery to show the wonder on the watchers faces.
During the 18th century Enlightenment period philosophers had begun to understand the world and our place in it. During public lectures all over the country this understanding was passed to many people . Joseph Wright captures perfectly how enthralling such lectures must have been .
The effects of light fascinated Joesph Wright of Derby . An attorneys son , he trained as a portrait painter in London , but he returned to Derby , the first major English painter to build his career outside the capital . With scientific experiments a source of general fascination , his meticulously painted figure groups in dark interiors illuminated by candles or lamps carried his reputation to London . His dramatic contrasts showed the influence of artists such as Gerrit van Honthorst and Rembrandt van Rijn , but Wright invented the scientific Enlightenment subject : scenes of experiments , new machinery and the leaders of the Industrial Revolution.