1778. Two-sided etching, line-engraving and aquatint on paper. Image measures 18 x 14 1/2"
This etching depicts William Pitt (1708-78), first Earl of Chatham and known as "the Great Commoner," who was a long-time opponent of Britain's policy towards its American colonies. Barry published these two prints in 1778 in posthumous support of the Earl, writing at the bottom, "This print is most respectfully addressed to the Patriotic members of both houses of Parliament and to all who preserve a gratefull remembrance of departed worth."
He has adapted Pitt's portrait to resemble a classical bust--a reference to his "antique virtue"--and placed Britannia next to him holding a spear. A praising text is inscribed on the pyramid behind them, erected as an eternal monument to Pitt. The text has been largely scratched out in this second edition of the etching, as the artist wanted to neutralize its formerly antagonistic political content. However, it remains fully legible in the aquatint of the same image on the verso. The print belong to a series of etchings from his series of paintings entitled "The Progress of Human Culture" in the Great Room of the Royal Society of Arts in London. This copy is in good condition with general overall wear and some chips and tears on the edges. Slight image loss to the cathedral on verso. James Barry (1741-1806) was a very famous 18th century Irish artist, celebrated for his grandiose classical-style history paintings. His skills in a variety of mediums earned him a place in the Royal Academy of Arts. This unusual pair of prints on one sheet is a scarce document of his work.