MAG Joseph Wright Gallery

Joseph Wright of Derby

Derby Museums is home to the world’s largest collection of works by artist Joseph Wright

Derby Museums is home to the world’s largest collection of works by artist Joseph Wright

Collection Highlights
About the collection

Born in Derby in 1734, Wright is an internationally renowned artist, whose paintings and works on paper adorn the walls of major galleries the world over. Famed as a “painter of light” and for his association with key members of the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, he is now considered to be one of Britain’s most interesting and wide-ranging painters.

The story of Wright’s life and art is told in the Joseph Wright Gallery, where a large selection of his paintings are on permanent display. The Joseph Wright Study Room is home to the museums’ remarkable collection of Wright’s drawings, as well as prints, letters and other archive materials related to the artist. At Pickford’s House, a further selection of his paintings can be seen as part of the domestic interior style of his times.

In 2018-19, our Young Co-producers Network explored the Joseph Wright collection and developed ideas to enhance the interpretation in the gallery. The gallery has new, accessible labels in hand-held guides, a story map visual on the floor takes visitors on a journey through Wright’s life and work and a new introductory panel helps visitors get to know the artist. This work has been supported by the Royal Academy of Arts and we thank all the young people involved for their ideas and commitment to the project.

What can I see?

Wright’s masterpiece, the ‘Orrery’, can be seen in the Joseph Wright Gallery alongside less well-known but equally spectacular paintings. Our knowledgeable gallery assistants are on hand to help you answer any questions you might have.

What can I do?

Follow the story of Wright’s life and art through the trail in the Joseph Wright Gallery. Delve deeper in the Joseph Wright Study Room and discover more about his working methods, his friends, family, and legacy.

What can I learn?

In the Joseph Wright Gallery you can learn more about Wright, his life, and world. Discover what it is about Wright’s work that continues to draw people to Derby from all over the world.

The relevance of Wright’s art has not diminished over time and continues to attract new audiences. Derby Museums is home to the world’s largest collection of Wright’s work but his art also graces the walls of some of the most famous galleries, including The Hermitage in St Petersburg, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Britain, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.

In addition to our Joseph Wright Collection we have a wider collection of fine art. You can take a look at all of our fine art collection, including the Joseph Wright collection, on Art UK