An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump is a 1768 oil-on-canvas
painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, part of a series of candlelit
scenes that Wright painted during the 1760s. The Air Pump departed
from previous painting conventions by depicting a scientific subject
in the reverential manner formerly reserved for scenes of historical
and religious significance. Wright was intimately involved in
depicting the Industrial Revolution and the scientific advances of the
Enlightenment, but while his paintings were recognized as something
out of the ordinary by his contemporaries, his provincial status and
choice of subjects meant the style was never widely imitated. The
picture has been owned by the National Gallery since 1863 and is still
regarded as a masterpiece of British art. The painting depicts a
natural philosopher, a forerunner of the modern scientist, recreating
one of Robert Boyle's air pump experiments, in which a bird is
deprived of oxygen, before a varied group of onlookers. The group
exhibit different reactions, but for most scientific curiosity
overcomes concern for the bird. The central figure looks out of the
picture as if inviting the viewer's participation in the outcome.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
In Brussels, Leopold I was inaugurated as the first King of the
In the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major battle in the
American Civil War, the Confederate Army under Joseph E. Johnston and
P. G. T. Beauregard routed Union Army troops under Irvin McDowell.
Creation-evolution controversy: High school biology teacher John T.
Scopes was found guilty of violating Tennessee's Butler Act by
teaching evolution in class.
First Indochina War: The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone was
established at the Geneva Conference, partitioning Vietnam along the
17th parallel into North Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh and South Vietnam
under Emperor Bao Dai.
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
garrulous: Excessively or tiresomely talkative.
Wikiquote of the day:
If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. -- J.
K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone