Art and Design KS2: Joseph Wright of Derby’s 'Orrery'

A statue comes to life in a magical gallery and walks into the painting 'A Philosopher Giving That Lecture on the Orrery where a Lamp is put in Place of the Sun' by Joseph Wright of Derby.

Inside the painting she explores Wright of Derby’s use of a single light source to draw attention to particular elements of the work, and discusses representation of the period of Enlightenment in works of art.

We explore the techniques Wright of Derby used to create his works, and his placement within the artistic world at the time of the painting and beyond.

In a mixture of live action, animation and elements of the painting itself, the clip brings the painting to life and ends by encouraging viewers to paint a modern invention or discovery in a way that explains its purpose.

This clip is from the series Your Paintings.

Teacher Notes

This clip is useful for introducing the concept of light and shade in paintings and drawings.

Children can use a hand torch as a light source which, when placed at different angles around an object (such as an apple or orange), produces not only light and dark areas on the fruit but also a distinct shadow.

This is a vital skill in artistic development and can be most easily done using drawing pencils or charcoal and white chalk to create monochromatic images to practice the principle.

This can then be applied to more complicated artwork in different media as children become more aware of the light source to their subjects - usually the sun directly or from a window or a nearby lamp.

Allow them time to experiment with the principle and to produce different images by applying what they have understood.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Art and Design at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at 2nd Level in Scotland.