This previously unrecorded late work by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97), ‘Landscape with Rainbow’, sold for £125,000 at Bellmans in Wisborough Green, West Sussex.
Bellmans' picture specialist James Gadd
first saw the painting in January, the result of a conversation
with a local builder. The vendor was a descendant of the Marshall
family, the largest salt proprietors in 18th century Cheshire.
Research at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery
(where a similar work with a provenance back to Wright's studio
sale in 1801 hangs) suggested this 2ft 4in x 3ft 3in (70cm x 1m)
oil might be the other of two versions of the subject recorded in
Wright's accounts. A 1795 letter written by Wright to Nathanial
Phillips, his client, highlighted his concerns at completing the
work prior to Phillips' scheduled departure for America.
If he did miss this deadline, it may be that
painting never left in the United Kingdom.
Displaying the skills of a pioneer in
luminescence, the painting was bought by an anonymous telephone
bidder, against several other interested parties. It had been
estimated to fetch £70,000-90,000 at the auction on April 25.
"This is the most expensive painting that I
have sold at Bellmans, but the increments were easy, I just had to
remember the number of noughts," said James Gadd.
The buyer's premium was 20%.