Letter from JAMES BARRY to WILLIAM HUNTER, written post July 1777, at 29 Suffolk Street, London

Source: MS from William L. Pressly collection: copy.

The transcription is from a handcopy made by William L. Pressly. The original source of the copy has not been retrieved.

The letter was written after Barry had started work on his series of six paintings, The Progress of Culture in the Great Room of the Society of Arts in the Adelphi in July 1777. In what was to be the third picture, entitled Crowning the Victors at Olympia, he wanted to include recognisable images of classical Greek figures from the 5th century B.C., the height of Greek culture, which is when the painting is set.

William Hunter (1718-83), Scottish physician, appointed Professor of Anatomy in the Royal Academy when it was founded in 1768, had one of the finest collections of coins in Europe which he kept at his house in Great Windmill Street, London. His extensive library and museum were open to anyone who wished to visit them.

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M.r Barry presents his best Compts to D.r Hunter & would be extremely obliged to him for the loan of any medal or print after any medal or busto of the head of Pericles & of Lycurgus ,1 if there be any such which M.r Barry much doubts as there is nothing of either in the Museum Florentinum, Capitolinum or in […] [gap in transcription (illegible)] or Agustino2 but perhaps they (at least that of Pericles) may be in some other which D.r Hunter is much more likely to be informed of. It would be even of importance to be certain there were no heads of them as M.r B.3 would be then justified in recurring to his invention those heads necessarily come into a very large picture4 he is now about and which from the importance of the subject will he flatters himself give D.r Hunter pleasure should he favour him with a visit.

Wednesday Evg Evening n. 29 Suffolk St