Letter from VALENTINE GREEN to JAMES BARRY, written 31 March 1774, at London

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, ii. 409-12.

Valentine Green (1739-1813) [go] [img], mezzotint engraver to the king (1773), was a fellow of the Incorporated Society of Artists; he was elected Associate Engraver to the Royal Academy in 1774. In 1772 he did an engraving of Barry's Venus rising from the sea [img].

The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce, founded in 1754 along the lines of the Dublin Society, commissioned the Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-92) to design new premises near the Strand to which it moved in 1774. This letter includes the Society's resolutions regarding the decoration of the great room of the Adelphi. Although this initiative came to nothing, it proved the stimulus for Barry's own scheme to decorate the room with six large paintings (see Barry to the Society of Arts, 6 March, 1777); this was to be one of the major works of his career.

Barry may have been having financial difficulties at this time since he placed an advertisement for pupils in the Public Advertiser.1

Full display

Sir,

Inclosed you receive a copy of resolutions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c. in the Strand, relative to the decorating of their New Room in the Adelphi.2 The favour of your company is therefore requested, to meet the several artists whose names are inserted in those resolutions, at the Turk's Head Tavern, Gerrard-Street, on Tuesday evening, the 5th of April next, at seven o'clock, to determine upon an answer to be reported to the Society.3 The plan referred to in the resolutions will be, at that time, produced for your inspection.

I am, &c.

Val. Valentine Green.

Salisbury Street,4
March 31, 1774.

Copy of the Resolutions of the Society of Arts, &c. January 28, 1774.

Resolved, That in order to the decorating the New Room, proper Historical or Allegorical Pictures be procured to be painted by the most eminent artists, provided such pictures can be obtained with convenience to the Society.

Resolved, That it would be proper for this purpose, to have eight Historical, and two Allegorical Pictures.

Resolved, That the subjects of the Historical Pictures be taken from some part of the English History, and that the subjects of the Allegorical pictures be emblematic designs, relative to the institution and views of the Society.

Resolved, That if ten eminent artists can be found who are willing to paint the above Pictures, that the Society should allow them the profits arising from an exhibition of them, in their New Room, for a proper limited time in one year, in order, in some measure to indemnify them for their time and trouble.

February the18th.

Resolved, That the following artists are proper persons to execute the Historical and Allegorical Pictures.5

SIGNIORA ANGELICA KAUFFMAN6,

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS7,

MR. WEST8,

MR. CIPRIANI9,

MR. DANCE10,

MR. MORTIMER11,

MR. BARRY,

Mr. WRIGHT12.

MR. ROMNEY13,

MR. PENNY14,

Resolved, That the Exhibition proposed be opened by the Society for the advantage of the artists who shall paint the Historical and Allegorical pictures, for the decorating the New Great Room.

February the 25th.

Resolved Resolved, To open the exhibition as near the time of the other exhibitions, as the nature of the Society's affairs will admit, and that it be continued for any time the artists shall desire, not exceeding four months.

Resolved, That the dimensions of the pictures be agreeable to the plan delivered to the Society, by Mr. Green. (This plan consisted of eight Historical Pictures, each 9 feet wide by 11 feet 10 inches high; and two Allegorical Pictures, one 8 feet by 5. the other 7 by 5.*15)

March the 11 th.

Resolved, That upon the most moderate computation, the incident expenses of an exhibition of the paintings, in the Society's new room for four months, will not be less than the sum of two hundred and eighty five pounds, viz.

For the necessary attendance of Servants - - - - 150
Descriptive Catalogues - - - - 45
Tickets - - - - - - 1O
Advertisements - - - - - 70
Removing Seats - - - - - 10
£.285

Resolved, That the Society do provide the necessary servants to attend the exhibition, be at the expense of the descriptive catalogues, advertisements, and other contingent charges, the whole not exceeding three hundred pounds.

March the 30th.

Resolved, That Mr. Green be desired to acquaint the artists with the resolutions of the Society, relative to the exhibition, and report their answers.

Samuel More, Secretary16.