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Six paintings at the Adelphi.-First, Orpheus.
continued broils with his brother artists, and kept him involved in pecuniary difficulties. The high distinction which he claimed, as follower of the grand style, rendered it necessary, he imagined, that he should vindicate his title. He determined to offer his pencil to the Society of Arts; and applied to adorn their great room at the Adelphi with a series of historical paintings, all from his own hand, and wholly at his own expense. When he made this magnificent offer, he had but sixteen shillings in his pocket; and was aware that if this offer was accepted, he must steal time from sleep to supply him with the means of life.
He had now ample room and verge enough to exhaust his powers of imagination, and exhibit all his knowledge and skill. The subject which he selected was Human Improvement. He divided the whole into six compartments. We begin," says the artist, describing his own conceptions,, " with man in a savage state, full of inconvenience, imperfection, and misery, and we follow him through several gradations of culture and happiness, which, after our probationary state here, are finally attended with beatitude or misery.
The first picture represents Orpheus as the founder of Grecian civilization; uniting in one character the legislator, divine, philosopher, poet, and musician. He stands in a wild and savage country, surrounded by people as uncultivated as their soil, to whom, as messenger of the gods, he is pouring out his song of instruction, accompanied by the music of the lyre. The hearers of this celestial delegate are armed with clubs, and clad in the skins of wild beasts; they have courage and strength, by which they subdue lions and tigers; but they want wisdom for their own protection and for that of their offspring. In illustration of this, a matron is seen, at a little distance from the door of her hut, milking a goat, while her children are about to become the
Second, Feast of Pan.—Third, Olympic Games.-Fourth, Commerce.
prey of a lion; two horses are run down by a tiger; and a damsel, carrying a dead fawn, leans on the shoulder of her male companion. In the distance, Ceres descends on the world; and by the side of Orpheus, lie paper, an egg, a bound lamb, and materials for sacrifice.
The second piece exhibits a dance of youths and maidens round the terminal figure of Pan. On one side appears the father of the harvest feast, with a white staff or rustic sceptre .n his hand, accompanied by his wife; on the other is a group of peasants, carousing amid rakes and ploughs, and fruits and flowers; while behind the whole, two oxen are seen drawing a load of corn to the threshing-floor. Ceres, Bacchus, and Par overlook from the clouds this scene of innocent festivity. A farm-house, with all its inn-door and out-door economy, is there. Love, too, and marriage mingle in the scene; children abound; rustic games are not forgotten; and aged men repose on the ground, applauding sports in which they can no longer participate.
The third picture-the crowning the victors in the Olympian games shows the judges seated on a throne, bearing the likenesses of Solon, Lycurgus, and other legislators, and trophies of Salamis, Marathon, and Thermopylæ. Before them pass the victors crowned; people are crowding to look on them. The heroes, poets, sages, and philosophers of Greece are present. Pindar leads the chorus; Hiero, of Syracuse, follows in his chariot; Diagorus, the Rhodian, is borne round the stadium on the shoulders of his victorious sons; Pericles is seen speaking to Cimon; while Socrates, Anaxagoras, and Euripides listen, and Aristophanes laughs and scoffs.
The fourth piece descends to modern times, and the scene is laid at home. The Thames triumphs in the presence of Drake,
Fifth, Members of the Society of Arts.-Sixth, Elysium. Raleigh, Cabot, and Cook. Mercury, as Commerce, accompanies them; and Nereids are carrying articles of manufacture and industry. Some of these demi-celestial porters are more sportive than laborious, and others more wanton than sportive. As music is connected closely with all matters of joy and triumph, Burney, the composer, accompanies Drake and Raleigh, and cheers them with his instruments.
The fifth picture is the meeting of the members of the Society of Arts, discoursing on the manufactures, commerce, and liberal pursuits of the country, and distributing the annual premiums. It is an assemblage of the chief promoters of the institution, male and female, with the gratuitous addition of Johnson and Burke.
The sixth picture is a view of Elysium. Mental Culture conducts to Piety and Virtue, and Piety and Virtue are rewarded by Immortal Happiness, In a picture forty-two feet long, the artist brings together the chief of the distinguished men of various nations, in one connected group, over which a splendor is shed, from between the wings of angels.
Those who have examined these extraordinary works, will hardly dispute that the artist grappled with a subject too varied, complicated, and profound, for the pencil. The moral grandeur of the undertaking, and the historical associations which it awakened, together with the room which it afforded for the display of imagination, imposed upon the ardent and indiscriminating Barry, and he propably began in the belief that the subject would unfold and brighten upon him by degrees.
A young lady of great wit and beauty, went to see the Elysium. She looked earnestly for a while, and said to Mr. Barry: "The ladies have not arrived in this paradise of yours." "Oh, but they have, madam," said the painter, with a smile;
Frugality and self-denial.-Dinner to Burke.
they reached Elysium some time ago, but I could find no place so fit for creatures so bright and beautiful, as behind yon very luminous cloud—they are there, and very happy, I assure you." On these six pictures Barry spent six years, instead of three as he had originally contemplated. A miscalculation that involved him in many difficulties, out of which he strove to extricate himself by uncommon frugality, self-denial, and labour during the periods he should have reserved for repose. He gave his day to the Adelphi, and much of the night to hurried drawing and hasty engravings, by the profits of which he sustained life.
His character, and whole system of in-door economy, were exhibited in a dinner he gave Mr. Burke. No one was better acquainted with the singular manners of this very singular man than the great statesman. He wished, however, to have ocular demonstration how he managed his household concerns in the absence of wife or servant, and requested to be asked to dinner. "Sir," said Barry, "you know I live alone; but if you will come and eat a steak with me, you shall have it tender and hot, and from the most classic market in London-that of Oxford." The day and the hour came, and Burke arriving at No. 36 Castlestreet, found Barry ready to receive him. He was conducted into the painting-room, which had undergone no change since it was a carpenter's shop. On one of the walls hung his large picture of Pandora, and round it were placed the studies of the six pictures of the Adelphi. There were likewise old straining frames, old sketches, and a printing-press, on which he printed his plates with his own hands. The labours of the spider, too, abounded, and rivalled in extent and colour pieces of old tapestry.
Burke saw all this, and yet wisely seemed to see it not. He observed, too, that most of the windows were broken or cracked, that the roof, which had no ceiling, admitted the light through
Infirmity of temper.—First picture.-Classic mania.
many crevices in the tiling, and that two old chairs and a deal table composed the whole of the furniture. The fire was burning brightly; the steaks were put on to broil, and Barry having spread a clean cloth on the table, put a pair of tongs in the hand of Burke, saying, "Be useful, my dear friend, and look to the steaks, while I fetch the porter." Burke did as he was desired. The painter soon returned with the porter in his hand, exclaiming, “What a misfortune! the wind carried away the fine foaming top, as I crossed Titchfield-street." They sat down together; the steak was tender, and done to a moment; the artist was full of anecdote, and Burke often declared that he never spent a happier evening in his life.
That Barry failed to reap the harvest which his qualities and attainments promised, must be imputed mainly to his infirmity of temper; but partly also to what he so often complained ofthe unawakened taste of his country for works of an historical character. Other reasons, however, may be assigned for Barry's want of success. His first picture, the Legend of St. Patrick, was right—it was one of his own island's traditions-in it he heard the voice of nature, and he who obeys her, will seldom fail. But afterwards, the miracles of Greece and the Vatican oppressed and enthralled his fancy. The artist who disdains to work in the spirit of his own country, will rarely work well in the spirit of any other. The names of Barry's pictures will tell where his heart was-Pandora, or the Heathen Eve; the Conversion of Polemon, in the presence of Xenocrates; the Birth of Venus; Philoctetus in Lemnos; Jupiter and Juno-and many more. Fondness for such subjects had long since fallen asleep, and it was not in the power of Barry to awaken it. To be truly classic, he should have done for Britain what the artists of old did for Greece. Their works are classical-not from being the