Known as the ‘painter of light’ Joseph Wright of Derby was one of the key members of the intellectual and philosophical movement known as the Enlightenment that dominated Europe in the 18th century.
His work is famed for its chiaroscuro effect, where light and dark is used in strong contrast. He was strongly influenced by the work of Gerrit van Honthort and Rembrandt van Rijn.
In 1773 he travelled to Italy. It was whilst here he realised he could combine his interest in both light and landscape painting, so taken was he by the impressive sight of Vesuvius erupting and Rome’s firework display.