Museum discovers a lost Joseph Wright original

Coliseum, by Moonlight (Derby Museums Trust)

Experts have revealed that a painting discovered in storage at Derby Museums could be an original by the city’s acclaimed artist Joseph Wright and worth up to a£1million.

Coliseum, by Moonlight, dating from the 1780s after Wright toured Italy, was thought to be a replica after a failed attempt at restoration in the early 1960s rendered the original unrecogniseable – but is now thought to be the companion painting to the artist’s Coliseum by Daylight.

The painting came to light while the museum’s conservator Mark Roberts was working on Coliseum by Daylight and found evidence that the Museum was home to two paintings of the Coliseum by Wright.

Restoration, using infrared technology and careful use of solvents to remove layers of over paint, is expected to take a year, when the work will be unveiled to the public at Derby Museum and Art Gallery in spring 2016.

The exciting news has been unveiled as part of plans for a modern-day Grand Tour, combining classic Old Masters and cutting edge masterpieces at venues across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Visitors will be invited to emulate the adventures of 18th century aristocracy, creating their own contemporary Grand Tour to enjoy the arts venues, landscapes, country houses, gardens, cities and towns of both counties.

The regional voyage of discovery will take place from July 4 to September 20 and March to June 2016 for Season Two of the project, featuring both privately-owned works that have not been seen in public before and specially commissioned original art works.

Participating venues are Chatsworth, Derby Museums, Nottingham Contemporary and The Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire. Contemporary artists Pablo Bronstein, Turner Prize-winner Simon Starling, Rose English, Peter Blake and architect Rem Koolhaas have been invited to create and present work for the Grand Tour.