Joseph Wright of Derby – Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight

Joseph Wright of Derby. Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight. exhibited 1765. Oil on canvas. 101.6 x 121.9 cm. Private collection.

Joseph Wright (September 3, 1734 – August 29, 1797), styled Wright of Derby, was an English landscape and portrait painter. He has been acclaimed as “the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution.”

Wright is notable for his use of Chiaroscuro effect, which emphasises the contrast of light and dark, and for his paintings of candle-lit subjects. His paintings of the birth of science out of alchemy, often based on the meetings of the Lunar Society, a group of very influential scientists and industrialists living in the English Midlands, are a significant record of the struggle of science against religious values in the period known as the Age of Enlightenment.

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