Letter from JAMES BARRY to SOCIETY OF ARTS, written 28 October 1778, at London

Source: MS RSA AD/MA/104/10/403, Royal Society of Arts, London.

As Barry proceeded with his series of six paintings in the Great Room of the Society of Arts, The Progress of Human Culture, he sought advice from the Society as to what figures to include in the next picture he wanted to work on. For an account of his progress, see D.G.C. Allan, 'The Chronology of James Barry's Work for the Society's Great Room', The Virtuoso Tribe of Arts & Sciences : Studies in the Eighteenth-century Work and Membership of the London Society of Arts, eds. D.G.C. Allan and John L. Abbott (London, 1992), pp. 336-58.

Full display

My Lords & Gentlemen

Having very considerably advanced the Work I had undertaken for the decorating your great room and being now entered upon that part where as a limb necessary for the uniformity of my Subject I mean to represent the Annual distribution of Rewards made by your Society1 to the several improvers in Arts, Manufactures & Commerce: There Commerce.2 There offers here a proper opportunity of introducing between forty and fifty portraits of such of your Members as it may be most agreable to the wishes of the Society to transmit to posterity in this work. On this occasion I must request the interference of the Society and that they will with as little delay as possible select & delegate from the whole Body the above number, ordering the matter so as that I can proceed without much delay & solicitation in the necessary Sittings of those selected Noblemen & Gentlemen; & that further in the list of their names which the Society will honour me with, the order of succession in which they are voted be so marked as that I might be enabled to follow the wishes of the Society as far as the limits of my extension will admit.3

I am My Lords & Gentlemen Your Most Obd.t Obedient Humble Servant

Jam.es Barry

Suffolk St 4 Octb.r October 28. 1778