Joseph Wright was born in Derby into a middle-class family. He began his formal training in London in 1751 at the studio of Thomas Hudson. Upon returning to Derby he made a living from painting portraits. He also painted genre and history paintings, and his associations with philosophers and scientists provided him with a unique body of source material for his images. Wright is known for several paintings of scientific experiments that reveal both his compositional skills and his talent for painting the effects of candlelight. Following a trip to Italy in 1774, he became more interested in landscape painting. Even after his return to England, Wright continued to paint Italian landscapes, influenced by Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa. Lake Nemi, with its framing device of trees on either side, is typical of landscape compositions of this period. Wright revisited the motif several times, pursuing his interest in atmospheric effects, and capturing the light of late evening.