- Museum number
Satirical portrait of James Barry; whole-length, his back turned and his hands in his pockets, and a surly expression on his face, near him is another man with his back and face turned
- Production date
Height: 260 millimetres
Width: 194 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- A satire on the painter James Barry's anti-social posturing while he was a student in Rome between 1766 and 1770. Opinionated and confrontational, Barry quarrelled with many of the connoisseurs and collectors in the city, which resulted in his estrangement from expatriate social circles. Driven by a high regard for his own calling as an artist and an idealistic belief in the need for a reformation in the arts, Barry's conflicts arose from often justifiable criticisms of the practices of dealers and artists, but did little to endear him to the small group of powerful patrons who dominated cultural life in Rome. Martin Myrone argues that Barry adopted a rhetorical stance by which the artist 'flaunted his social alienation as a sign of his distance from what he presented as degenerate visual traditions.' See Martin Myrone, 'Bodybuilding: Reforming Masculinities in British Art 1750-1810', New Haven and London, 2005, pp. 82-4.
The drawing satirises Barry, on the left, as arrogant and uncouth, shown with his hands in his pockets and in a confrontational stance, in contrast to the fashionably elegant French gentleman on the right. The Barry figure insults the Frenchman by calling him 'Mr Soup Maigre'. His second utterance - 'The Blue Bells of Ireland' - draws attention to his Irishness, an aspect of his identity he did little to hide, but which would have marked him as someone outside the boundaries of polite society at the time. This is lost on the Frenchman, however, who turns his back on Barry and dismisses him as an oafish and uncultivated Englishman - 'Monsieur Roast Beef'.
The verse inscription below was presumably a later addition. Joseph Farington recorded in 1799 being given similar verses by Ozias Humphry, who claimed they 'were written on Barry while he was in Rome' ('The Diary of Joseph Farington', Kenneth Garlick ed., 1978-98, vol IV, p. 1172; see Myrone, 2005, p. 329, fn. 30). The inscription on the verso, also a later addition, incorrectly dates the drawing to 1763, which was before Barry was in Rome.
For Barry's conflicts in Rome also see William Pressly, 'The Life and Art of James Barry', 1981, pp.10-15 and Peter Murray, 'Barry in Rome' in 'James Barry', exh. cat., Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland, 2005-6, pp. 26-35.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.161
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- 1868,0612.2136 to 2203 consist of 68 items all of which relate to James Barry, all given by J H Anderdon and registered together. There is every reason to believe that they all come from lot 1387* of the sale of the collection of Thomas Haviland Burke (Christie's 21-26 June 1852), which is described as "The works of Barry RA in a large folio volume, containing 82 engravings, etchings, original drawings, autographs, letters and other matters relating to this great, but eccentric artist. A most valuable and highly interesting collection." It was sold for £21 and must have been purchased by Anderdon. The front cover of the bound set of the 'Series of Etchings' by Barry, published by Colnaghi in 1808 (for which see 1868,0612.2150) has a label pasted into the front cover in the hand of J H Anderdon which reads "1852 James Barry RA. Mr Haviland Burke. at an eminent collector's sale with other fine works I secured these matchless things. JHA". The difference between the 82 items of the Christie catalogue and the 68 that were registered in 1868 can be explained by Anderdon's having removed some of the smaller items to use in his various sets of extra-illustrated volumes: two of the missing items are the drawing and print in his set of RA catalogues, both of which are annotated by Anderdon as having come from the Haviland Burke sale (see 1867,1109.1.453 and 454).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number