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Chez M. HAMILTON, GRANDE RUE DES BATIGNOLLES, No. 9,
PRÈS LA BARRIÈRE DE CLICUY;
Barry's six pictures of the progress of civilization were commenced in 1977. That enthusiastic individual anxious to signalize his zeal for Art, and to set an example to bis conlemporaries, actually undertook and executed this noble work gratuitously, to decorate the great room of the Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, in the Adelphi.
The plan of the painter is grand and extensive ; perhaps too extensive for his vehicle of expression. Beginning with man in an uncultivated state, we follow him through various stages of improvement and culture, till he finally receives in Elysium the reward of his virtues.
The first picture represents Orpheus, instructing the Aborigines of Thrace; the second a Grecian Harvest Home, or Thanksgivings to Ceres and Bacchus; the third the Crowning the Victors in the Olympic Games ; the fourth Navigation, or the Triumph of the Thames; the fifth the Distribution of Premiums in the Society of Arts, etc., and the sixth Elysium, or the State of final Retribution. All these pictures have the same height viz : 11 feet 6 inches; Orpheus, the Grecian Harvest Home , the Thames, and the Society are all 15 feet 2 inches in length ; the other two are each 42 feet long.
When Barry proposed to the Society of Arts to paint these pictures, his worldly riches amounted to sixteen shillings : they absorbed more than six years of his time, during which he existed as he could in the British Metropolis on fourpence a day. Michael Angelo and Raphael had their Julius and Leo; Annibal Carrachi, the Cardinal Farnese; and Le Brun, Louis XIV, when they executed those glorious works which have immortalized them selves and their enlightened patrons. Barry had no such advantages, he not only conceived and painted these pictures without a patron, and without encouragement, but he painted them in poverty, and its attendant obscurity, often embarrassed by unmerited obstacles, and crossed and opposed by «the insolence of office » in the bosom of that very society to which these splendid emanations of intellect were offered as gift. That they have fáulls cannot be denied; but who will dwell on them after this recital.