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ID number:  BIRBI-98.2
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Green, Valentine (1739-1813)
Title / Object name:  Miravan breaking open the tomb of his ancestors
Object type:  Print
Place made:  London
Culture:  British
Date made:  1772
Materials:  Mezzotint, third state
Measurements:  Plate: 503 x 360 mm; paper: 528 x 391 mm; mount: 630 x 516 mm
Provenance:  Purchased from Christopher Mendez, London, March 1998

Joseph Wright of Derby commissioned this print to reproduce a painting he exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1772. The inscription identifies the unusual subject. Miravan, a Persian prince, breaks into his ancestor’s tomb hoping to find the ‘treasure’ promised in an adjacent inscription. Instead, he learns a tragic lesson: reading a second inscription inside the tomb he is struck dumb. Cursed for searching for gold amongst the dead, Miravan, ‘Son of Avarice’, is doomed never to ‘enjoy Repose’ again. Mezzotint was the perfect choice of medium to capture Wright’s dramatic night scene with its combined sources of light from the moon and oil lamps.

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