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Historians to Explore Life and Works of 18th-century Artist

LIVERPOOL.- Researchers at the University of Liverpool will explore the life and art of Joseph Wright of Derby at a special event linked to a new exhibition of his work at the Walker Art Gallery in the city.

Between 1768 and 1771 Wright was based in Liverpool where he painted several of the port’s leading slave-trading merchants as well as wealthy landowners from Lancashire. His presence in Liverpool helped to set up a local arts academy.

Researchers from universities in the UK, USA, and Sweden will come together during a two-day event to discuss the impact of his work on Liverpool and his representation of life in the eighteenth century.

Dr Holger Hoock, Director of the University’s Eighteenth-Century Worlds Centre, said: “We will look at Liverpool as an urban centre for art in the eighteenth century and discuss Wright’s local and national patronage networks and exhibition strategies. The symposium will include an introduction to the new exhibition, as well as a private viewing and reception for delegates.”

Alex Kidson, the Walker’s curator of British art, added: “The exhibition examines the period Wright spent in Liverpool at the start of the city’s cultural renaissance and when its status as a major world port was growing. He came here because he realised his career was faltering and he wanted a change of direction, but his time in Liverpool is not widely documented despite it being one of his most successful periods. We hope that this exhibition and symposium will throw new light on the life and significance of this great artist.”

The event is organised by the new Eighteenth-Century Worlds Centre at the University of Liverpool. One of the largest of its kind in the UK, it puts a strong emphasis on working with other city institutions and local organisations with an interest in eighteenth-century history, including National Museums Liverpool and the Athenaeum. The Centre is a multi-disciplinary initiative that spans research fields in

History, English, Modern Languages and Classics and will introduce a new MA in eighteenth-century studies in 2009. The Centre aims to provide an intellectual home for scholars through workshops, seminars, and conferences and aims to capitalise on the wealth of eighteenth-century resources on offer in Merseyside.

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