6/8/10

Joseph Wright, A Philosopher by Lamplight


Derby Museums and Art Gallery

Date: 1769
Technique: Oil on canvas, 1282 x 1029 mm

An old man in the costume of a hermit or philosopher contemplates human bones in a lamp-lit cave, while two small men or boys dressed as pilgrims (the shells in the hats identify them as such) approach with trepidation. The exact subject of this painting is uncertain; it may relate to several different literary sources. Wright has been more concerned with creating a sense of weird mystery; note the strange discrepancy of scale between the hermit and the young men.

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