Thursday, December 12, 2019

"An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump" - Joseph Wright Derby, National Gallery, London, England

Kimberly and I viewed this impressive work by Joseph Wright of Derby while visiting the National Gallery in London, England last summer.

"An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump" 
• Joseph Wright Derby 
• 1768 
• Oil on Canvas 
• 72"x94.5"
I was immediately struck by the similarity between this work and the works of many 20th Century illustrators. The dramatic lighting, which Derby is known for, became very popular as a storytelling tool for a number of well known artists like Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and the Brothers Hildebrandt, of which I have included an example.

Photo by Kimberly at Saunders Fine Arts.

The Brothers Hildebrandt employ a similar sense of drama in this illustration depicting Bilbo and the Dwarves from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. An interesting difference from Derby's work is that the color temperatures are much more exaggerated here, adding more of a fantasy atmosphere.

"The Unexpected Party" • Tim and Greg Hildebrandt
I have no way of knowing if there is any of Derby's direct influence in this work, but the similarities across centuries are fascinating.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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