Enfilade

At Auction | Joseph Wright’s ‘A Blacksmith Shop’

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 18, 2012

Warm thanks to John Chu for pointing out the results of this Christie’s auction, notable for its inclusion of a long-untraced painting by Joseph Wright. -CH

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From Christie’s:

Christie’s Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale (Sale 5964)
London, King Street, 4 December 2012

joseph_wright_of_derby_a_blacksmiths_shop_d5639299h

Joseph Wright of Derby, A Blacksmith’s Shop, 1771-73 [estimate  £400,000 – £600,000; sold for £914,850]

Wright’s dramatic portrayal of a lowly Blacksmith’s Shop is a highly significant re-discovery, having been untraced since it was exhibited at the Graves Galleries in 1910. Known only through an engraving executed by William Pether in 1771 (fig. 1), Benedict Nicolson, in his complete catalogue of Wright’s works published in 1968, lamented: ‘We have lost a fine invention’ (op. cit., p. 50). One of a group of five Blacksmith’s Shops and Iron Forges executed between 1771 and 1773, and the only one to remain in private hands, this painting is both an expression of Wright’s close engagement in the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and a sophisticated example of his mastery of chiaroscuro effects.

Wright was not the first British painter to depict contemporary industrial scenes. Thomas Smith had executed two detailed topographical views of a Shropshire industrial site as early as 1758, Edward Penny exhibited The Gossiping Blacksmith at the Royal Academy’s inaugural exhibition in 1769, and Sandby and Ibbetson made numerous sketches of mines, coal-pits and factories in the North of England. He was, however, the first artist of his generation to explore its full potential as a subject for serious, academic art. . .

The Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale realised £11,562,250/$18,603,660/€11,426,147, selling 54% by lot and 70% by value.

The full catalogue entry is available here»