The present drawing is attributed to Wright of Derby as no exact comparable watercolours exist to support the attribution. We know from a letter that towards the end of his life he used watercolour, mixing his pigments in a teacup. However the majority of Wright's works on paper are monochromatic studies with ink washes rather than full watercolours. There is a pencil and grey wash drawing of Dovedale, a study for a finished oil painting is in the collection of Derby Museum and Art Gallery (see B. Nicholson, Joseph Wright of Derby, London, 1968, p. 162, pl. 254) to which the present watercolour bears similarities in both subject and the composition; with the tree, the winding path and the receding peaks, the shape of the clouds sweeping round a patch of blue sky. However the execution is more considered and analytical with a sense of stability in the formation of the rocks and trees. This could of course be the difference between a finished studio study and the present watercolour executed in a sketchbook on the spot, though no such sketchbooks of Derbyshire have as yet come to light.
We are grateful to David Fraser for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.