How to Read Paintings: An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768) by Joseph Wright of Derby. Oil on canvas. 183 cm × 244 cm. National Gallery, London, UK. Image source Wikimedia Commons

The first thing that draws my eye in this remarkable painting, made in 1768 by the British artist Joseph Wright, is the expression of the scientist — or the “natural philosopher” as he would have been…

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