Within Wright's oeuvre, this painting is a supreme example of the dramatically candle lit industrial scenes for which he became reknown.
An Iron Forge by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1772
- Oil on canvas
- 122 x 132 cm
- Art Fund grant:
- £125,000 ( Total: £2,243,000; Tax remission)
- Acquired in:
- Lord Romsey (through Sotheby's)
Wright depicts the powers of nature harnessed or studied by man. In this work, the artist includes a detached and contemplative observer whose presence stresses the role of the human intellect in all progress. Wright depicts the power-driven tilt hammer that was to liberate the blacksmith from much of the heavy labour depicted in earlier works. The man's relaxed attitude, even his faintly dandyish striped waistcoat, suggests that revolutionary changes in his forge have brought about a lightening of his load. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.
Sold by the artist to Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston; by edscent to Lord Romsey.