Letter from JAMES BARRY to GEORGE BARRET, written c. January 1766, at Paris

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 36-38.

The letter is undated, but was probably written after Barry’s letter to Burke [c. 20 December 1765] in which he said he meant to write to Barret.

George Barret (c1728-84), Irish landscape painter who had left Dublin for London in 1763 (Ann Crookshank and the Knight of Glin, Ireland's Painters 1600-1940 (London: Yale, 2000), p.135). Barry greatly admired his work.

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Dear Mr. Barrett,

I am extremely angry with myself for not having wrote to you before this time. I wanted to give you some account of Lutherbourg,1 a landscape painter here, whose pictures I had not seen till just now; and I put off writing to you merely for that reason. It would have made me very happy to have had you with me in running over the several collections— one particularly of Baron ——, where there are some excellent Flemish landscapes, and some of Vernet's capital pictures, which I would be glad to have your opinion of.2 To my thinking Vernet is astonishingly well in several things; he paints with great knowledge of his objects, has a spirited touche3 and great management in the whole of his pictures; but if I may venture to speak my mind, there is one in England who, take him for all in all, is an overmatch for him; for fear of being thought to flatter my friends, I shall keep his name to myself, and by the bye it would be no novelty to you to hear it. I cannot see what hinders your coming over here one summer or other; the journey would not be much more expensive than going into Wales;4 you would have a pleasant and not unpicturesque country to travel through, and Mrs. Barrett5 would have an opportunity of seeing Paris, the fine gardens of the Thuilleries Tuileries and Luxembourg, and conversing with the politest and most agreeable women in the world, whose countenances never lower, and with tempers, that it is impossible to ruffle—but I had like to have forgot Lutherbourg, who is a young man about thirty, paints pretty much in the style of Berghem, except that the landscape part is more principal than Berghem's.6 In my opinion he cuts Vernet down all to nothing, so far as one may compare two people together so different in their walks. Lutherbourg has somewhat more dignity than Berghem, and is in every respect nearly as well in his cattle, figures, and other parts of his pictures. My opinion of the other artists I dare say you have had from Mr. Burke, which will make any other mention of them unnecessary7—but one thing by the way, Lutherbourg and Vernet have both of them exceeding great prices for their pictures.8 I thought to have sent you the sizes and prices together, but have not been able to get them as yet, though they have been promised me. Farewell, I sincerely wish you all the happiness you can possibly wish yourself. I owe much to your friendship and abilities, and shall always have a most cordial and hearty pleasure in acknowledging of it.

Your's, most affectionately,


Compliments to Mrs. Barrett and family.9