Exhibition | Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 12, 2013

From The Holburne Museum:

Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 25 January — 5 May 2014
Derby Museum and Art Gallery, dates TBA


Joseph Wright, Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the
Islands in the Bay of Naples, ca. 1776–80 (London: Tate)

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I have taken the Liberty to give this Letter of Introduction to my Friend Mr. Wright of Derby, Who since his Return from Italy is come to Bath, & Designs to settle there.
Erasmus Darwin, 22 November 1775

Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’ (1734–1797) lived and worked in Bath between November 1775 and June 1777. This brief and little-known episode in Wright’s life marked a crossroads in his career; yet it has never been explored in detail. Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond will place Wright in the context of the many artists, musicians, writers, business people and scientists living and working in the Georgian spa and present for the first time a comprehensive view of his life and work during those eighteen months. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue will also go ‘beyond’ to examine the effect of his time in Bath and his travels in Italy on Wright’s later work.


Joseph Wright, The Rev. Dr. Thomas Wilson and his adopted Daughter Miss Catherine Sophia Macaulay, 1776 (Chawton House Library)

Wright came to Bath to paint portraits, hoping to build on the success of Thomas Gainsborough who had recently left for London. The exhibition will include the three remaining portraits that the artist certainly made in Bath, including his painting of the elderly Rev. Thomas Wilson with the young daughter of Catharine Macaulay, the radical historian.

Whilst in Bath Wright worked up landscape studies he had made in Italy, producing spectacular views of Vesuvius in Eruption and the dazzling firework displays of Rome, the highlight of a visit to the artist’s studio in Brock Street. It was whilst in Bath that he first began to explore subjects from sentimental contemporary literature, which in turn have a strong impact on his portrait composition, and the exhibition will include some of his most beautiful depictions of figures alone in the landscape.

We are grateful to Derby Museum, which holds the world’s largest and finest collection of Wright’s work, for its generous loans to this exhibition which will include The Indian Widow, The Alchymist and some beautiful drawings. Other lenders include the National Gallery, Musée du Louvre, Tate, the British Museum, the Walker Art Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum. This exhibition will travel to Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

A study day is scheduled for 24 February 2014.

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From I. B. Tauris:

Amina Wright, Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2014), 112 pages, ISBN: 978-1781300213, £16 / $30.

coverJoseph Wright (1734–1797) arrived in Bath from his native Derby in November 1775. Recently returned from a tour of Italy, he came to the fashionable spa town to re-establish his business as a portrait painter, hoping to fill the vacancy left by Thomas Gainsborough the previous year. This book, the first to examine Wright’s little-known Bath period, places the artist in the context of a city then at the height of its unique cultural significance. Using rarely-seen illustrations of his work, it considers his attempts to conquer a saturated portrait market with images of local celebrities, and his use of domestic spaces for public exhibition. His celebrated views of fireworks in Rome and the terrors of Vesuvius were first shown in Bath. Beautifully illustrated and highly readable, Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond sheds new light on a key moment in this important English artist’s career, deepening our understanding of his life and work as a whole.

Amina Wright is Senior Curator at the Holburne Museum in Bath, UK, and has been Curator of Fine Art there since 2001. She was closely involved in the Holburne’s major redevelopment project, completed in 2011, as well as a number of exhibitions relating to British eighteenth-century painting, drawings and Georgian Bath. Previous publications include the exhibition catalogues Pictures of Innocence: Children in Portraits from Hogarth to Lawrence (2005) and Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait Painting in Bath 1720–1800 (2002).

Study Day | Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on December 12, 2013

From the study day programme:

Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 24 February 2014

This event will bring together a variety of stimulating speakers from different disciplines to examine in greater
depth Wright’s little-known Bath period and its contexts. The morning session will explore the cultural life of Bath
in the 1770s through recent historical research and ask whether Wright’s place in this complex and creative
society has been misunderstood. In the afternoon the focus will turn to other places: Derbyshire, Liverpool, the
London exhibition galleries and the places of Wright’s literary imagination, and their influence on the artist’s
life and work.

The study day accompanies the major new exhibition Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond (25 January 5
May 2014). It has been made possible by a generous grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British
Art. The exhibition is sponsored by Lowell Libson Ltd. Price: £45 (Concessions £40, Students £15), to include morning coffee, afternoon tea and a ticket for the exhibition.

Credit card bookings may be made by calling Spencer Hancock at the Holburne on 01225 388560, email
s.hancock@holburne.org, or in person at the Museum’s information desk. Or send a cheque made payable to “The Holburne Museum” to Spencer Hancock, Visitor Services Manager, the Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB. We can also offer a packed lunch for £6.15. Please purchase when you book. When booking, please supply your name and address so that your tickets can be posted to you.

M O N D A Y ,  2 4  F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 4

9.00  Registration

9.30  Welcome, Alexander Sturgis, Director, Holburne Museum; and introduction, Adrian Tinniswood OBE, Trustee, the Holburne Museum

9.45  Georgian Bath: Images and Realities, Peter Borsay

Session I: Joseph Wright’s Bath
10.30  Toyshops and Tradesmen in Bath, Vanessa Brett
11.00  Coffee
11.30  Anna Miller, Catharine Macaulay and Agnes Witts: Bath hostesses, diarists and travellers, Elaine Chalus
12.00  Henry Sandford’s commonplace books, Susan Blundell
12.25  Wright’s working practices in Bath, Rica Jones
12.50  Questions

1.00  Lunch

2.30  Joseph Wright ‘of Bath’?, Amina Wright

Session II: Joseph Wright beyond Bath
3.15  Joseph Wright and Derby, Stephen Daniels and Alice Insley
3.45  Joseph Wright and Liverpool, Alex Kidson
4.10  Tea
4.50  Wright’s Exhibitions, John Bonehill
5.15  Questions

Recent Reviews Posted at BSECS

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on December 12, 2013

Recent reviews at BSECS:

Nelson, Navy, Nation: The story of the Royal Navy and the British people, 1688–1815

Location: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Event Date: December 2013
Reviewed By: Evan Wilson, University of Oxford
This new gallery shows there’s more to the eighteenth-century Navy than Nelson, but his fans will still get their fix.

Read full review…

KPM. Gestalten, Benutzen, Sammeln / Creating, Using, Collecting: 250 Jahre Porzellan aus der Königlichen Manufaktur Berlin

Location: Schloss Charlottenburg
Event Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Caroline Cannon-Brookes
Berlin celebrates the 250th anniversary of its Royal Porcelain Manufactory.

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David d’Angers: Making the Modern Monument

Location: The Frick Collection, New York City
Event Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Lucy Gellman, Florence B. Selden Fellow, Yale University Art Gallery
A welcome, if somewhat underwhelming, stateside debut for the ‘other’ David.

Read full review…

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