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'A world of trouble': Joseph Wright of Derby in Bath, 1775-1777

By Abram Jacob Fox


Between November 1775 and June 1777, Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797) spent two social `seasons' in the resort town of Bath. Shortly after returning from two years in Rome, Wright left Derby with his new wife and child in hopes of becoming the premier portrait painter in Bath, filling the void left by Thomas Gainsborough's departure the previous year. Rather than achieving success, Wright found himself ill-equipped for the complex social interactions of his new city and severely wanting for commissions. In light of Wright's professional failure in Bath, particularly contrasted with the artist's highly successful 1768-1771 Liverpool period, the Bath period has become a forgotten episode in critical literature on Wright. This thesis examines Wright's life during those two years, collecting for the first time all of his published Bath works and correspondence and exploring the dramatic effects of the experience on his career

Topics: Art History, Bath, Joseph Wright of Derby, London, Portraiture, Royal Academy, Vesuvius
Year: 2009
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