An Iron Forge

Joseph Wright of Derby1772

Tate Britain

Tate Britain

Wright managed to show modern industry in a way which gave it intensely poetic, quasi-religious significance. Here, the figures in a small iron-forge might almost be part of a nativity. But the birth is a material one as the molten iron is turned on a drum, driven by a tilt-hammer.The different ages of the iron-worker’s family update the old theme of the ‘ages of man’. The presence of his wife and children associate his work with domestic happiness and prosperity. In the light of the later impact of the Industrial Revolution on family and community, this is poignant.

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  • Title: An Iron Forge
  • Creator: Joseph Wright
  • Date Created: 1772
  • Provenance: Purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1992
  • Physical Dimensions: w1320 x h1213 mm
  • Original Title: An Iron Forge
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Tate
  • Medium: Oil paint on canvas


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