Barry, James (1741-1806; Irish)
29 prints on various subjects (see details below)
Etching and engraving, various sizes
Presented by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c., London, 1881
National Gallery of Victoria (p.183.200-1 to p.183.221-1 and p.183.224-1 to p.183.228-1) and  
Unidentified; location unknown (p.183.222-1 & p.183.223-1)

[photo: Satan and his legions (c.1792-95) (p.183.226-1)]

Barry, probably best known for his remarkable series of 6 paintings illustrating The Progress of Human Culture (Royal Society of Arts, London, 1777-84), was a fierce individualist who was eventually expelled from the Royal Academy in 1799 after various altercations with traditionalists. He influenced William Blake amongst others, and has been reassessed recently as a key contributor to the development of Romanticism in Britain.

In the NGV’s annual report for 1881, under donations received from the Melbourne International Exhibition 1880, these prints are described as etchings, although many of them actually combine etching and engraving techniques. All but two of the 29 prints are listed in the NGV’s current online catalogue (refer detailed list below). The subjects covered include portraits, Biblical and mythological themes, and illustrations to Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the dated works range from 1776 to c.1800.

The extant prints are listed below in chronological order (with accession nos; ill. indicates reproduced in the gallery’s online catalogue):
The Birth of Venus 1776 [p.183.218-1]
King Lear and Cordelia 1776 [p.183.225-1; ill.]
The Phoenix of the Resurrection of Freedom 1776 [p.183.217-1]
The Temptation of Adam (c.1776) [p.183.208-1]
The Fall of Satan 1777 [p.183.224-1; ill.]
Job reproved by his friends (1777) [p.183.227-1]
Philoctetes in the island of Lemnos (1777) [p.183.202-1; ill.]
The Conversion of Polemen (c.1778) [p.183.203-1]
William Pitt, Earl of Chatham 1778 [p.183.219-1]
The Diagorides victors at Olympia (c.1791) [p.183.208-1]
Elysum Tartarus or the state of final retribution (c.1791) [p.183.205-1]
A Grecian Harvest Home (1791) [p.183.200-1; ill.]
Orpheus instructing a savage people in theology and the arts… (1791) [p.183.201-1; ill.]
The Society for the Encouragement of Arts… 1791 [p.183.215-1]
These two sketches were intended to have been painted… 1791 [p.183.220-1]
The Thames, or the Triumph of Navigation 1791 [p.183.216-1]
Satan and his legions (c.1792-95) [p.183.226-1; ill.]: Milton’s Paradise Lost, II: 229-301 (reproduced here)
Satan, Sin and Death (c.1792-95) [p.183.228-1; ill.]: Paradise Lost, II: 720-26
In the Elysium (c.1793) [p.183.204-1]
This colloquial groupe of the celebrated sextumvirate 1795 [p.183.211-1]
This group exhibiting the future enjoyment of reserved knowledge 1795 [p.183.210-1]
The Laws of Olympia (c.1795) [p.183.206-1]
As a testimony of veneration (c.1800) [p.183.221-1] (by James Barry & Charles Fox)
The Angel with scales and nearby groups [p.183.212-1]
The Archangel seated, and surrounding groups [p.183.209-1]
Archimedes, Descartes and Thales [p.183.214-1]
Creation of Pandora [p.183.213-1]


AR 1881, p.55 (no details given); not listed in NGV 1894 or 1905; PF nos.1349-1377 (all still in the NGV except nos.1371-2 [acc.nos. p.183.222-1 and p.183.223-1, listed without title]

The NGV catalogue provides details for each work, and illustrations of many of them, as noted in the list above. Several were included in the NGV’s in-house exhibition Grotesque: The Diabolical and Fantastic in Art, Dec.2004-May 2005 (exh.brochure by Cathy Leahy & others, 2004)  

Two of the prints donated in 1881 no longer appear to be in the Melbourne collection, and their subjects do not seem to be recorded (acc.nos.p.183.222-1 and p.183.223-1 in the NGV’s unpublished list of works acquired before 1905)

For Barry, see AKL 7 (1993), pp.192-93; Bénézit 1, pp.1215-16; and, providing a useful summary. See also William Pressly, James Barry’s Murals at the Royal Society of Arts: Envisioning a new public art, Cork University Press, 2015