When James Bond met Q at the National Gallery

Posted November 6th, 2012 under England, Film, Galleries, Science

James Bond art
It’s probably no coincidence a conversation between James Bond and the new Q takes place in London’s National Gallery – right in front of a Wright of Derby painting. We managed to find the scene in an official clip which you can watch below.

The new 007 “Skyfall” is breaking all records and for the first time the creators were allowed to use all of London as a setting. This includes the National Gallery and we thought we might want to have a closer look at the painting in the back which turns out to be “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” (1768) by Joseph Wright ‘of Derby: “A travelling scientist is shown demonstrating the formation of a vacuum by withdrawing air from a flask containing a white cockatoo, though common birds like sparrows would normally have been used. Air pumps were developed in the 17th century and were relatively familiar by Wright’s day. The artist’s subject is not scientific invention, but a human drama in a night-time setting.

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, by Joseph Wright of Derby

The bird will die if the demonstrator continues to deprive it of oxygen, and Wright leaves us in doubt as to whether or not the cockatoo will be reprieved. The painting reveals a wide range of individual reactions, from the frightened children, through the reflective philosopher, the excited interest of the youth on the left, to the indifferent young lovers concerned only with each other.

The figures are dramatically lit by a single candle, while in the window the moon appears. On the table in front of the candle is a glass containing a skull.”

- National Gallery Podcast: Author and historian Jenny Uglow on Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’s passion for science.

James Bond art
This is Derbyshire reports: “The head of museums in Derby, Stuart Gillis, was so excited to see it that he has now recreated actor Daniel Craig’s pose in the city’s own Joseph Wright Gallery, in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

But he was sitting in front of Wright’s famous painting, The Orrery, for his scene. Mr Gillis said: “Joseph Wright was a scientific revolutionary – I guess you could call him the Q of his day!

“He was a maverick and an innovator – and the use of his work in Skyfall illustrates the continuing living story of experimentation and innovation that runs from Wright’s day right up to the present.”

“Skyfall” was released on the same day the newly-formed Derby Museums Trust kicked off its Your Museums week, featuring events across the city’s three museums. Several of these have been designed to promote Wright and, in particular, science and innovation. Go here for more on Your Museum Week and Derby Museums.


More things related to Mr. James Bond on this blog.