Joseph Wright of Derby painting to sell at Sotheby’s

A painting by Joseph Wright of Derby is set to be the highlight of an evening sale of Old Master works at Sotheby’s.

You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Wright (1734-1797).

He was a British artist who - as his moniker suggests - lived and worked most of his life in his home town of Derby, England.

Joseph Wright Derby

Wright is famed for his skill in chiaroscuro (painting scenes lit by candlelight)

Wright was a keen advocate of science and technology. Much of his work depicts science experiments and industrial scenes.  

The present lot, titled An Academy by Lamplight (1769), shows a group of young painters working in the studio at the Royal Academy late at night.

Julian Gascoigne, senior specialist in British paintings at Sotheby’s, said: “Joseph Wright of Derby is one of a small and select group of British eighteenth-century artists whose work transcends national boundaries and speaks to a wider global sensibility...

“With its overt reference to the classical legend of Pygmalion, and the transformative power of art, this is one of the most important works by the artist to come to the market in recent years and we look forward to presenting it to collectors around the world."

The piece is valued at £2.5m-3.5m ($3.2m-4.6m), which would make it one of the most valuable paintings by Wright ever to sell.

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