Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (Derby 1734-1797)
Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (Derby 1734-1797)

Mount Vesuvius, Italy

Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (Derby 1734-1797)
Mount Vesuvius, Italy
with signature and date 'J. Wright delin 1775' (lower left) and with inscription 'Mount Vesuvius/Drawing was made by Wright of Derby when in Italy in 1775' (lower centre)
12½ x 16½ in. (30.8 x 42 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 7 June 2006, lot 321.
B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby: Painter of Light, London, 1968, 2, p. 101., pl. 165.

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Lot Essay

Wright left England on his first and only visit to Italy in October 1773. He arrived in Rome in February 1774 and remained in Italy until June the following year, principally staying in Rome but visting Naples and its surroundings, including the Gulf of Salerno, from early October, returning to Rome by 11 November. He returned to England via North Italy and France in 1775, arriving in Derby on 26 September.

It was not surprising that Wright, whose fascination with science and dramatic light effects had been so evident in the industrial scenes of his early career, felt drawn to Naples, where it was possible to witness one of nature's most spectacular events, the eruption of Vesuvius. Wright witnessed Vesuvius erupting, writing that it was the 'most wonderful sight in nature'. It was an event which was to continue to inspire him for the rest of his career.

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