Wright had spent nearly 20 years in Liverpool and two years in Europe before arriving in Bath at the start of the season in the winter of 1775. His intention was to take advantage of the fashionable spa’s demand for portraiture after the departure for London of Gainsborough, whose landscape work around Bath was the subject of an exhibition at the Holburne in 2011. It has to be said that many of the exhibits in this show provide context for Wright’s time in Bath rather than stem directly from it. So on entry we see the The Alchymist 1771/1795 (above right) and later Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples 1776/80 (poster) and the fine The Annual Girandola at the Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome 1775–1776 (below).
The Holburne has two Wrights of its own, which a visitor might miss on the landings: The Dead Soldier, 1789 (below left) and a recent gift, Elizabeth Balguy née Gould c1783 (below right).
Joseph Wright of Derby, Bath and Beyond will be at the Holburne until 5 May and at Derby Museum and Art Gallery later in the year.