byname WRIGHT OF DERBY (b. Sept. 3, 1734, Derby, Derbyshire, Eng.--d. Aug. 29, 1797, Derby), English painter who was a pioneer in the artistic treatment of industrial subjects. He was also the best European painter of artificial light of his day.
Wright was trained as a portrait painter by Thomas Hudson in the 1750s. Wright's home was Derby, one of the great centres of the birth of the Industrial Revolution, and his depictions of scenes lit by moonlight or candlelight combine the realism of the new machinery with the romanticism involved in its application to industry and science. His pictures of technological subjects, partly inspired by the Dutch followers of Caravaggio, date from 1763 to 1773; the most famous are The Air Pump (1768) and The Orrery (c. 1763-65). Wright was also noted for his portraits of English Midlands industrialists and intellectuals.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994
Experiment on a Bird in the Airpump
The Alchemist in Search of the Philosophers Stone
This section was contributed by Michael Shephard.