Two Boys Blowing a Bladder by Candle-light

Engraver: Peter Perez Burdett (British, 1735–1793)

Artist: After Joseph Wright (Wright of Derby) (British, Derby 1734–1797 Derby)

Date: 1773

Medium: Aquatint printed in red and brown inks

Dimensions: 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)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1968

Accession Number: 68.589a


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.