Letter from JAMES BARRY to EARL OF CHATHAM, written 27 December 1777, at London

Source: MS PRO 30/8/18, Chatham Papers, Public Record Office, London. Cover: To
The Earl of Chatham
at Hayes
Near Brumley

William Pitt(1708-78), 1st Earl of Chatham, known as Pitt the Elder, renowned in parliament for his oratory and leader of the Administration from 1766 to 1768, had long opposed Britain's intransigent policy towards the American colonies. His final years were marked by ill-health. Barry admired the 'Great Commoner', as he was known, and in 1778 published an etching and aquatint of him with the motto, 'This print is most respectfully addressed to the Patriotic members of both houses of Parliament and to all who preserve a gratefull1 remembrance of departed worth'. [img]

Full display

My Lord

I am engaged in an extensive work of Painting for the Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce which is now far advanced.2 My views (the periods of human Culture) having naturally led me to take up for one of the subjects, the several Victors receiving their Crowns at Olympia, & the time I have fixed on being about the 86th. Olympiad3 affords me an opportunity of bringing in some of the greatest Characters of Greece. As I can also with great propriety introduce the portraits of three or four similar Characters of my own time, my earnest wish is to avail myself of the advantage of your Lordship's portrait, Lord Cambden's & Sir George Saville's as three of the Hellanodicks or Judges in those Games.4 If your Lordship could afford me an hour5 to this end, it will compleat6 my scheme & posterity will thank you for such a Condescension as you will naturally be the first object of their research; and the work in general must unavoidably attract their attention, as it is very large (this single picture being 42 feet in lenght length ) & will be in the possession of an extensive Society founded upon the views of National advancement.

As to myself, I am a Member of the Royal Academy & one of the six selected by the Academicians for the painting of S. Pauls Paul's 7 & tho though it is more than probable that in wrestling with such a Character as your Lordships my abilities may come short of my wishes, yet I can with truth & confidence as well as with the sincerest respect & veneration subscribe myself your Lordships Lordship's Admirer & and humble

James Barry

Suffolk S.t No. 29 Hay Market8
Dec. 27. 1777

Whenever your Lordship can give me an hour & will honour me with your Commands, I will wait upon you either where you now are or down at Hays9 if it should be more agreeable

To the Earl of Chatham