- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

Page 1 of 4

Navjot Kaur Sidhu

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

        Joseph Wright’s “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump”, created in 1768, shows an early scientific experiment because the painting includes more science. Joseph Wright is the first major artist in the England. He depicts scientific experiments in his paintings. His paintings known for the industrial scenes and dramatic use of lighting. Wright’s paintings also include emotional as well as sympathetic scenes which can be seen from the shocking and emotional faces of the people in the painting. In this painting, I will describe that Wright’s painting express the moment of enlightenment, and scientific approach by using dark colors and emotions in the painting to show classic realism movement which shifts the traditional religious view away with the replacement of modern scientific world.  

        In Wright’s painting, people in a small group are gathered around the table.  As we see in this painting, each shows different facial expressions and emotions which examines the reaction of the experiment. An old man is facing in front of the painting and it seems like he is the important character of this art because he is fully visible out of all the figures. He is James Ferguson of Derby who is a scientific professor and giving lecture about the experiment on a bird in the painting (Wright of Derby). There is a large glass globe containing a white color bird which appears to be in danger, there is also a liquid in a vessel on a table which contains a small hollow tube appears like a straw ( By pumping the air in a glass vessel which contains a bird, the scientist tries to demonstrate the nature of the vacuum (Fraser and Barton). The books and other instruments are neatly placed on a table. These symbolises that what they do and what they use for it. On the left side of old man, a young boy is sat while watching with full of curiosity.

        There is also a young couple standing on the left side of tall old man. Everyone in the group is involved in the drama except that young couple which is seems completely in love and do not care about the experiment. They are Thomas Coltman and his wife Mary Barlow, who were painted again by wright after their marriage ( However, all the other people in the painting watching the experiment with fear, interest and enjoyment. The fear can be seen from the expressions of two little girl which shows that they cannot bear the pain of the bird. The man just on the side of these two girls is look more concerned about the girls. Moreover, there is an empty cage on the wall which is holding by a boy and he has a feeling of emotions and sadness. The gentleman on the right side of the table is lost in his own thoughts and holding spectacles in his hand.

        This art work’s method is looks like oil on canvas which is glowing and shiny and this type of art is remembering the Northern Renaissance art and the color used in the painting are darker and not realistic which are used by the artists of Renaissance period (Khan Academy). The Renaissance believe in naturalism because they believe that people could relate more easily to realistic art so they stressed into the beauty of human body (Hankins). This movement of human body with proper mass can be seen in this painting. Furthermore, the contemporary clothes are also used in the paintings of Renaissance art and in this painting, all are in beautiful clothes which shows their status in the society (Lecture Notes). There is a moon in the clouds which can be seen from the outside of the window which informs about the night time. Also, the dark colours in the background shows the dark night and make painting scarier.  This art work put light on the new eighteenth century scientific world which is away from traditional and religious view of the world because this painting has more science and it shows that the person who is doing experiment has no mercy for a white bird.

Download as (for upgraded members)
Citation Generator

(2017, 08). An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. Retrieved 08, 2017, from

"An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump" 08 2017. 2017. 08 2017 <>.

"An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.", 08 2017. Web. 08 2017. <>.

"An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump." 08, 2017. Accessed 08, 2017.