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Museums and Art

"The man digging holes", Joseph Wright - description of the painting


Burrowing Man - Joseph Wright. 97 x 121 cm

In the original, this picture is called "The Earthstopper on the Banks of the Derwent", which can be roughly translated as "A man plugging holes on the banks of Dervent" (Dervent is a river in Derbyshire in the artist’s homeland).

The canvas depicts a man in a red jacket and dark green pants, who is digging a fox hole with a shovel on the banks of the Dervent River, shown on the left side of the picture. He does this so that when hunting foxes, the latter could not hide in a hole, underground from the hunter. Most likely, the hunter who bows is the hunter himself - next to him in the lower right corner of the canvas you can see a dog and a light horse color.

The background is well-drawn in the picture — the landscape, which in Wright’s paintings usually plays the role of only a backdrop for a portrait or other plot — is a rocky area with a fast mountain stream shining in the moonlight. The painter’s skill in depicting scenes with special lighting is well demonstrated in this picture. The middle part of the painting with rocks, a shore below them and a dark dry tree with curved branches is in the shade and emphasizes the illuminated areas, while dividing the space of the painting into an area illuminated by the warm light of a lantern brought by a person and creating its own special enclosed space around the hunter - and into the area with the moon peering over the tops of the cliffs of trees, illuminating with a cold silver light, the clouds occupying a significant part of the canvas in the background.

The whole picture is drawn in detail - from the crowns of trees on the rocks and clouds, to the folds on the clothes of a person and animal figures, as well as objects in the clearing on which a person is digging.


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