Homage to the Provinces

Peter Campbell

  • Wright of Derby by Judy Egerton
    Tate Gallery, 294 pp, £25.00, February 1990, ISBN 1 85437 038 3

‘The label “Wright of Derby” is likely to be permanent, although it inevitably has provincial connotations which now seem inappropriate.’ So Judy Egerton writes in her introduction to the catalogue of the exhibition of his work which runs until 22 April at the Tate. ‘Inappropriate’, I suppose, because ‘provincial’ suggests pictures which cannot stand metropolitan comparisons – something which Wright’s work, from the time of the exhibition of the Orrery and the Air Pump, did very successfully. On the other hand, Wright’s individuality is inseparable both from a provincial culture – that of the Midlands in the second half of the 18th century – and a provincial style.

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