Narrative paintings

Dramatically lit studio with five male artists studying a female model

'An Academy by Lamp light', 1769, Private collection

Shortly before moving to Liverpool, Wright gained celebrity in London with his painting 'An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump'. However, he failed to sell the painting, and this led him to re-examine his use of dramatic light effects.

He decided to scale down from the heroic size of the 'Air Pump'. He began to develop subjects with outdoor settings, and experimented with new ways of using paint to depict light. He also incorporated into his paintings the resuls of a fresh study of perspective.

A key painting at this time was 'An Academy by Lamp light'. This may well relate to the founding of Liverpool's first Society of Artists in 1769. Wright's friend Peter Perez Burdett was its President.