Essay on Wright's "The Orrery"

1100 Words5 Pages
Joseph Wright was born and raised in Derby. After becoming an accomplished painter, he eventually took the name of Wright of Derby when he moved to Liverpool. He took liking to the nickname to set himself apart from Richard Wright, an already established painter in Liverpool. Although he became known for the work he did in Liverpool, his realistic paintings were greatly influenced by his humble home in Derby. Though he was well known in Derby for being a talented portraitist, his works in Liverpool far surpassed the portraits he painted for middle-class citizens.1 He intricately portrayed scenes of brilliant thinkers in their studies with the atmosphere of his humble hometown. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery was the second of three…show more content…
It is not by accident that Wright used the lamp to take place of the sun in the model being explained by the philosopher. The lamp symbolizes the sun of our solar system. Just as our sun illuminates the dark corners of our solar system, the lamp illuminates the room in the painting.

It is clear that the main focus of the painting is to be on the light source. But after the viewer recognizes the light source, their attention is drawn upward to the man in the bright red garments. His garments are well groomed, yet they are not lavish. This gives the idea that he is a man of the middle class. The position of this man immediately makes the viewer realize that he is the second most important focus of the piece. By the way he is positioned higher than the other people in the portrait, as well as in the middle of the group, and closest to the philosopher, one could assume that he is the man that organized and funded the assembly of people gathered around the orrery. Without the man in the red garments, this scene would never have taken place.

Once the viewer carefully examines the man in the red garments, it becomes apparent that his eyes, nor his mind, are focused on the light source that the other members of the assembly are infatuated with. The viewer follows his eyes and locks on to the man in bluish gray garments. His garments, too, indicate that he is a part of the middle class. The fact that he is

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