Joseph Wright of Derby is famed for the dramatic contrasts of light and shade in the society portraits, landscapes and narrative scenes he painted during the early decades of the Industrial Revolution.

Born in Derby and trained as a painter in London under Thomas Hudson, he visited Italy and worked in Liverpool and Bath, but lived mostly in his home town. These two paintings from Wright's last years illustrate both his distinctive style and his strong connection to the landscape and culture of Derbyshire. Sir Richard Arkwright's cotton mill, built in Cromford in 1771, is credited as being one of the first factories in England. The industrialist also built Willersley Castle as his home (completed around 1795). Arkwright may have commissioned his friend Wright to immortalise his achievements on canvas. Derby Museums has the world's largest holdings of works by Wright. However, these paintings are of special significance as they are the first pictures by the artist showing the Derbyshire landscape to be acquired by the collection.

This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.

Provenance

Possibly commisioned by Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792); purchased by Colonel M.H. Grant in the 1950s; acquired by Frost and Reed, London; acquired by the Self Healthcare Foundation; sold Christie's 2016. An Art Loss Register search has been unde


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