An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

I’ve been obsessed with this painting by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) for the last few weeks. I love the use of chiaroscuro in general, and I love how Wright has used it to deify the scientific experiment. I’ve also been reading Boynton’s Beginnings of Modern Science, a collection of the early letters and essays showing the development of major scientific fields of study. I am always in awe of our curiosity and ingenuity as a species.

This poem is also dedicated to Artschaft, whose excellent art criticism has exposed me to lots of new art and artists. I encourage you to have a look at her work.


 

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

 

And Boyle said let there be the element

primitive and perfectly unmingled body

made of no others nor of each other mixt

of one and only one kind making all things.

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