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BARRY, James (1741--1806)
A series of etchings by James Barry, Esq. from his original and justly celebrated paintings, in the Great Room of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, Adelphi.
London: printed by W. Bulmer and Co.; sold by Colnaghi, printseller, and by all the printsellers in London. The members of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, may be accommodated with copies at their Rooms, Adelphi. Price five guineas stitched, and six guineas neatly bound, 1808.
[16], 2, [2] p., [14] etch. pl. (8 double) ; 59.7 x 98.5 cm. (2º)

The engravings represent James Barry's six large murals on canvas for the Great Room of the Royal Society of Arts (where the paintings may still be seen) representing the progress of civilization with allegorical and historical figures (six plates numbered '1st, '3d', '4th', '5th' '7th' and '8th', signed as engraved and published on 1 May 1791),the sketches of two paintings of the King and Queen planned to hang over the chimney-pieces but never executed (single plate numbered '2d' and '6th', also dated 1 May 1791), and seven plates of enlarged details with additional figures (one dated 28 February 1793, three dated 1 May 1795, one dated 25 July 1800, and two undated). Some copies of this work include two further plates, namely an etching after Barry's painting 'Lear and Cordelia' dated 1776, and an outline etching by Luigi Schiavonetti of 'Pandora' which was unfinished at Barry's death in 1806: see copies at the Royal Academy Library, British Architectural Library, and National Art Library. Impressions of the latter plate are known with the undated imprint of the Society of Arts (e.g. in two copies held by the Royal Academy Library). It also occurs however with an imprint-line reading 'Etched For R.H. Solly. May. 1810' (see notes to BAL catalogue). The Soane Library copy as described here may well represent an earlier issue, before the addition of these extra plates (which are not mentioned in the introductory text headed 'General Subject Of The Prints'). Adding weight to this supposition is the fact that, unlike the above-mentioned copies, Soane's copy includes a full-page letterpress dedication that reads 'To His Grace The President, The Vice-Presidents And Members Of The Society Of Arts, Manufactures, And Commerce, By Whose Patriotic Views The Culture Of The Human Mind, As Exhibited In Inventions And Discoveries, Is Encouraged And Promoted: These Prints, Taken From The Series Of Paintings In Their Great Room, Illustrative Of That Culture, And Now First Offered To The Public In Complete Sets, Are Respectfully Dedicated, As The Work Of That Eminent Artist James Barry, Esq. Whom The Society Patronized While Living, And Honoured When Dead, By His Only Sister, Mary Bulkley.' BAL, Early printed books, no. 198.

Copy Notes With the plates bound single-page throughout. The binding order of the Soane copy differs from that described in the Royal Academy copies, with pl. [13] showing sketches of two unexecuted paintings bound as pl. [2]. Purchased 9 April 1823 from T. & W. Boone for £2 0s. 0d. (Priv. Corr. XVI.E.5.6).

Binding Contemporary C19th half calf, gilt roll-tooled borders, marbled-paper boards, gilt-tooled spine, red morocco spine-label.

Reference Number 1271


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