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07 March 2019Joseph Wright of Derby and the Men and Art of the Lunar Society
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Joseph Wright of Derby and the Men and Art of the Lunar Society Leslie Primo Thursday 07 March 2019

In an age of discovery where science and industry went hand-in-hand, 18th century England saw not only the flowering of the Industrial Revolution, but also that of the self-made man; who came not from money but from industry. It was a time of gentlemen’s clubs, in their true original meaning rather that the corruption of this term we unfortunately experience today, and one of these clubs would become synonymous with investigation and discovery characterised by the individuals that were associated with it. But this age of discovery also witnessed the end of an era with the rise of the AntiSlavery movement, and those who were on the periphery of this club who were also achieving great things. Such as the voyages of Captain Cook, the work of Joseph Banks, the work of Sir Hans Sloane, and the inception of the Royal Academy under its first President, Sir Joshua Reynolds. In this lecture I shall, through the paintings of Reynolds and others, explore the lives, achievements, common interests and connections between a unique group of individuals from this period who either attended this club or were associated with it; men such as, James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, Joseph Wright of Derby and others. The industrialists amongst these men would be, in their time, referred to as philosophers practising what we would now call joined-up thinking, eventually we would invent a new name for them - scientists however, they would call themselves the Lunar Society.

Leslie Primo:  Holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. Was Visiting Lecturer in Art History at the University of Reading in 2005 and 2007, and gives lectures and guided tours, plus special talks, at both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Also lectures at the City Literary Institute, and has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld Institute.

Illustration:  William Bloye's statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch, in Birmingham.  Source:  Wiki Commons

Banner Illustration:  ‘Anerley Arms' Pleasure Gardens, B. Constable, credit Bromley Historic Collections