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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

James Barry (1741-1806), Painter

Portrait and history painter; b. Cork, studied in Italy 1766-71; exhibited RA 1771-76; ARA 1772, RA 1773 and professor of painting 1782; between 1777 and 1782 he decorated the Society of Arts rooms in the Adelphi; in 1799 his criticism of the RA led to his expulsion; died in poverty.

‘[on his face] one could see lines prematurely engraven by the workings of [an] impassioned mind, so that he appeared older than he really was’ (Edward Fryer, 1809).

‘His face was striking ... it had vulgar features, but no vulgar expression. It was rugged, austere, and passion-beaten; but the passions traced there were those of aspiring thought, and unconquerable energy ...’ (W. H. Curran, 1855).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.