Letter from JAMES BARRY to DUKE OF RICHMOND, written 16 June 1788 , at London

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 274-75.

A line of asterisks separates the second paragraph from the first in Fryer's text, which suggests a passage has been omitted.

Charles Lennox (1735-1806), 3rd Duke of Richmond, [go] founder member and a Vice-President of the Society of Arts, a patron of the arts and member of the Dilettanti Society. Richmond House in Whitehall had its own art gallery with classical sculptures in the garden. These were open to interested artists and Richmond started a drawing school there under the painter G.B.Cipriani and the sculptor J. Wilton in 1758 (Lionel Cust, History of the Society of Dilettanti (London, 1914), p. 58 and James Fenton, School of Genius: A History of the Royal Academy of Arts (London, 2006), p. 97).

Richmond had commissioned Barry to paint Antiochus and Stratonice (See Barry to Richmond, 29 August and 14 October 1773).

Richmond served as Minister of Ordnance in the Administration of William Pitt (1759-1806).

The date of the letter is established by Richmond's reply on 19 June in which he acknowledges 'your letter of the 16th instant'.

Full display

My Lord,

Your Grace's goodness and indulgence to me, which I have long since experienced, encourage me at present to trespass upon your attention for a few lines. About two months ago, upon the death of Mr. Stuart,1 who succeeded Hogarth in the place of Sergeant painter,2 I mentioned to Mr. Townley3 my wishes to obtain that, or some such place, in order to enable me to carry on at my own expense some work of art for the public, with more convenience and ease to myself than I experienced in that work at the Adelphi. Mr. Townley immediately wrote to Mr.Agar4 and others of his friends, through whose means the matter was mentioned to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,5 the Lord Chancellor,6 and other personages; but as upon enquiry the place was found to produce no more than eighteen pounds a year, I begged Mr. Agar to let it drop. At present I am informed that the death of Mr. Benjamin Wilson might leave some vacancy of about one hundred and fifty pounds a year in your Grace's department of the ordnance,7 which, if I should be thought worthy of filling, would give full scope to my views upon the art and upon the public. At present I am at work upon one of the subjects from ShakspeareShakespeare for Alderman Boydell;8 but as these subjects afford more of the Gothic than of the heroic, are full of barbarisms and anachronisms of every kind, and come as much within the compass of the grossest ignorance, as of the most extensive knowledge, I shall get to something of more importance and more worthy of the eighteenth century, whenever it is in my power to create an opportunity. I have gone through a scene of great labour since I had the honour of seeing your Grace. I have finished and read those lectures upon the theory of the art, which as professor I am annually to deliver in the Royal Academy,9 and I have finished the prints of the work at the Adelphi,10 all but the picture of the Society.11

Trusting that your Grace's goodness and indulgence will excuse this liberty I have taken, I have the honour to be, with the sincerest respect, your Grace's much obliged and affectionate humble servant,

J. Barry.