Italianate Moonlit Coastal Scene

JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY ARA (1734-1797)

Dimensions

Height - 13.50inch (34.29cm)
Width - 19.75inch (50.16cm)
Framed Height - 19.00inch (48.26cm)
Framed Width - 25.25inch (64.13cm)

Description

Italianate Moonlit Coastal Scene
JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY

Period

1774

Literature

ITALIANATE MOONLIT COASTAL SCENE, VESUVIUS FROM POSILLIPO

JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY

1734 -1797
Oil on canvas 13 ½ x 19 ¾ inches
Framed size 19 x 25 ¼ inches

Joseph Wright was born on 3 September 1734 in Derby, son of John Wright, an attorney and Hannah (nee Brookes). He was educated at Derby Grammar School and went on to study under Thomas Hudson from 1751 – 1753 and again from 1756 to 1767. Joseph Wight based himself in Derby although he toured the east Midlands from 1759 to 1760 and was in Liverpool from 1768 to 1771 where he had a successful portrait practice with the prosperous middle classes.
Wright exhibited his work 46 paintings at the Society of Artist Great Britain; 3 at the Free Society and forty at the Royal Academy from 1765 to 1794.
He was elected ARA in 1781 and RA in 1784 but declined the honour.
Wright was influenced by Thomas Frye and was fond of exploring the effects of a single light source and the play of shadows which resulted.
During the 1760’s he became famous for his experiments in contemporary candlelit subjects.
In October 1773 he left for Italy and was in Rome & Naples during 1774 – 5.While there he witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius, which became his favourite theme.
On returning to England in 1775 he spent fifteen months in Bath and then settled back in Derby in 1777.
Wright suffered from much ill health in his later years.
He died on 29 August 1797 and is buried at St. Alkmund’s Church.

His pupils included Richard Hurleston and William Tate. Richard Tate was a follower.

Work Represented: National Portrait Gallery London; Derby Museum; British Museum; Tate; Hatchlands National Trust; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Southampton City Art Gallery; Laing Art Gallery; Newcastle & Yale.

Bibl: Portrait Painters – Brian Stewart & Mervyn Cutten


During his travels in Italy, Wright visited Naples and Mount Vesuvius from early October to early November 1774. The last true eruption of Vesuvius had been in 1767, but Sir William Hamilton reported ‘Vesuvius has never been free from smoke, not ever many months without throwing up red hot Scoriae… usually followed by a current of liquid Lava’. He also stated that ‘at Naples, when a lava appears…it is styled an eruption’. Wright may well have witnessed such lava at Vesuvius, and there is no doubt that the dramatic play of light appealed to his painterly sensibilities.

Exhibition scale treatments of the subject, painted in the mid-to-late 1770s includes An Eruption of Vesuvius, seen from Portici (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples (Tate) and An Eruption of Mount Vesuvius with the Procession of St. Jenvarius’s Head (Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow). On stylistic grounds the present work appears to date from late in the artist’s career.

Provenance:Private Collection


   
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