The Forge of Joseph Wright of Derby

The Forge of Joseph Wright of Derby
The Forge of Joseph Wright of Derby
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The English painter Joseph Wright of Derby (1743 – 1797) is considered the greatest artist of the period of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, since many of his works represent environments of the factories of the time, of certain types of work or of technological advances that were carried out at that time, as is the case of his canvas Experiment with a pneumatic machine.

Wright's Forge of Derby

Wright's Forge of Derby

The Forge was made in 1772 and is currently part of the painting collection of the Russian Museum of the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. It is a work that shows us how metallurgy works were developed in the last decades of the 18th century. Undoubtedly, in a tremendously different way to how we see them in paintings from previous centuries, among which we should certainly mention Velázquez's Forge of Vulcano.

It is clear that between one painting and another there are many other differences, in addition to the technological evolution that they show us. Not surprisingly, the Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velázquez is considered one of the greatest geniuses in the History of Art, while Joseph Wright of Derby is only a somewhat outstanding painter during the 18th century in England.

That is to say, they are master painters whose stature and talent is unmatched. However, English is worth beingknown, above all for his ability to paint complicated lighting effects, a facet of his work that fascinated him. Besides that mastery gave him some popularity and success, so it was a subject that he worked on on numerous occasions, almost repeatedly. In fact, several of his works dedicated to the work of blacksmiths are preserved, and in each of them he makes a complete demonstration of his mastery of pictorial light.

Here we see some unusual contrasts, and a curious opposition between different types of lights. The truth is that the composition conveys an almost mysterious sensation, almost typical of the later decades when Romanticism became fashionable. This is due to the fusion of a cold light from a cloudy night sky, with the warmer tones of the sparkles of the fire that hides the blacksmith with his back to us.

To experience this type of effects, it is known that the painter had a series of black screens in his workshop, which he moved and half-opened their leaves, to observe the light effects on different types of objects. And after this type of study, what was observed was later able to transfer it to his fabrics.

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