Enlightenment! Derbyshire Setting the Eighteenth Century Pace at Strutt's North Mill

By Culture24 Reporter | 18 April 2013

Exhibition preview: Enlightenment! Derbyshire Setting the Pace in the Eighteenth Century, Strutt's North Mill, Belper, April 20 – June 2 2013

A photo of a classic landscape painting
W Richards Senior, Belper Bridge (1887)
An acquisition campaign by three Midlands venues has resulted in some pretty illuminating arrivals: a celestial atlas etched by an estronomer, the scientific instruments of Derby clockmakers, an egg-timer and exquisite landscape paintings are among the highlights of this display, illustrating Belper’s contribution to science and industry during the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are dozens of intriguing artefacts to choose from, often with good yarns behind them. The History and Antiquities of Haddon Hall – an 1836 book by Samuel Rayner – was, curators admit, in a “pretty poor” state when it was bought, with the 32 “highly finished” drawings it contained suffering the effects of damp and foxing. Conservators have had their work cut out.

Many of the items hint at the before-and-after story of the Industrial Revolution. The Ashford Black Marble jewellery set, containing a brooch and earrings in their original box, bears the name of the Selim Bright company which was a key player in Buxton’s status as a centre of the black marble industry.

There are also early 19th century banknotes, silhouettes of early porcelain workers and a brandy pan given by silverware magnate Richard Arkwright to his daughter, Susannah, when she married Charles Hurt in 1870. A portrait of the couple remains on curators’ wishlists, with a sponsored walk among the events held in a bid to raise the required £11,000.

This is the second leg of the exhibition’s tour across the three institutions involved with the Lottery-backed project, which will move to Derby Museum and Art Gallery having started out in Buxton.

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