Joseph Wright of Derby was considered the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution. The painting has been in the National Gallery in London since 1863 and is considered a masterpiece of British art.
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This picture tells the story of a simple scientific experiment. The rather wild-looking gentleman is the scientist. He is pumping air out of the glass bowl in the centre of the picture so that the white dove inside it collapses through lack of oxygen. This picture mirrors English 18th century society at a time of evolution: the old order and the new; and Wright has captured it in one dramatic moment in the light of a lamp.
The Masterworks series is a treasure trove of art. Each ten-minute program focuses on an individual painting, with a rich visual survey accompanied by an authoritative voice-over commentary. The selection of works, from galleries on both sides of the Atlantic, covers a broad spectrum of art from the earliest European masterpieces to contemporary works, introducing the unfamiliar and rediscovering the well-loved.