An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

The eighteenth century saw the Age of Enlightenment, as man turned to science and fact with curiosity and wonder. This is represented in this dramatic scene, wherein a traveling scientist demonstrating the formation of a vacuum by withdrawing air from a flask containing a bird, who will die if the scientists continues to deprive it of oxygen. There are varying reactions to his experiment, including wonder, curiosity, fear and horror, illustrating the many attitudes towards the advancement of science during the Age of Enlightenment.

Creator: Joseph Wright of Derby

Date: 1768

Original Medium: Oil on canvas

Original Size: 183 x 244 cm

Location: National Gallery London