Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Boys Blowing a Bladder by Candle-light

Peter Perez Burdett (British, 1735–1793)
After Joseph Wright (Wright of Derby) (British, Derby 1734–1797 Derby)
Aquatint printed in red and brown inks
plate: 11 1/4 x 8 3/8 in. (28.6 x 21.3 cm) sheet: 11 1/2 x 8 11/16 in. (29.2 x 22 cm)
Credit Line:
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1968
Accession Number:
Not on view
This depiction of two boys testing the capacity of a bladder perfectly captures the scientific spirit of the Age of Enlightenment. Burdett's print is unique in that it bears no trace of etched outlines, and thus may be the first pure aquatint produced in England. Two plates were inked separately in brown and red to reproduce the warm, rosy glow of Wright's candlelit painting.
Inscription: Names and dates in plate, lower left and right corners.
Vendor: L. W. Read
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. "Joseph Wright of Derby in Liverpool," November 17, 2007–February 24, 2008.

Yale Center for British Art, Yale University. "Joseph Wright of Derby in Liverpool," May 22, 2008–August 30, 2008.

Chaloner Smith IV, pt. I, p. 124
John Chaloner Smith British Mezzotinto Portraits...from the introduction of the art to the early part of the present century. Henry Sotheran & Company, vols. 1-4, 1878–83, vol. IV, pt. I, p. 124.

Roy Morris "Engravings after Joseph Wright" in Print Collector's Quarterly. vol. 19, 1932, p. 97.

Benedict Nicolson Joseph Wright of Derby: Painter of Light. Paul Mellon Foundation for British Art, London, 1968, related painting (untraced, copy Huntington Library, San Marino), cat. no. 208, p. 239.

Timothy Clayton "The Engravings and Publication of Prints of Joseph Wright's Paintings" in: Joseph Wright of Derby, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery. London, 1990, cat. no. 162 / P13, p. 242, ill.

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