In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week we feature a lovely group portrait by a British master of light.
Joseph Wright of Derby’s (1734-1797) fascination with capturing dramatic shadow and light served him well throughout his artistic career in the late 18th century. In addition, Wright was at the forefront during the Age of Enlightenment and many of his most iconic paintings chronicle the birth of science and its struggle against established religious views. Some scholars have proclaimed the painter to have been the first to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution.
Wright was also an accomplished portraitist and executed many for the British elite during his lifetime. One such work — a group of three children in full length — features during Sotheby’s upcoming July 6 “Old Masters” Evening Sale in London. Although at first glance the painting appears to be a rather typical 18th-century portrait, subtle characteristics — such as the strong shadow towards the boys’ legs — reveal Wright’s unique touch.
The three boys are brothers, the children of Richard Arkwright, and are shown in casual dress, with a large white kite. The radiance of their faces is particularly brilliant, blushed with red as if they have just paused in their play long enough for a snapshot.
Auction estimates are between $2 million and $3 million. To learn more, visit Sotheby’s.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.