Virgil's Tomb (Joseph Wright paintings)
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''Virgil's Tomb'' is the title of at least three paintings completed by Joseph Wright of Derby between 1779 and 1785.
The subject of these paintings is a fruit of Wright's Italian tour undertaken in 1773-1775. These three depict the ruined structure near Naples that was traditionally identified as the tomb of the Latin epic poet Virgil. The earliest of the three, dated to 1779, includes the figure of Silius Italicus, a slightly later poet known to have been an admirer of Virgil.
Silius Italicus owned the tomb and its surroundings and organized pilgrimages for other admirers of the poet.〔(Silius Italicus, Poet of the Second Punic War ) Hellenic World〕
In total, Wright used the subject in seven paintings.〔(Virgil’s Tomb (1782) ) ''Exhibition'' Revolutionary Players〕 He sent one of the paintings to poet William Hayley who returned the favour by writing ''Ode to Mr Wright of Derby''.〔(Attempts toward fame and fortune: Joseph Wright of Derby and late-renaissance Humanism. ) Free Library〕
Unlike Wright's paintings of candlelit scenes, the views of Virgil's tomb are "flooded with oppressive lunar light".〔(Nicolson, p. 83)〕 They reflect from a stage of Wright's artistic development when "he held a delicate balance between what actually was there, and what he liked to construct out of what was there" .〔(Nicolson, p. 83)〕
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