Letter from SOCIETY OF ARTS to JAMES BARRY, written post 19 June 1801 , at Adelphi, London

Source: MS RSA PR/GE/112/12/42, f. 185, Royal Society of Arts, London.

The transcription is made from the Society's Minute Book.

The Society of Arts' medal had been in use since 1753; the die had so worn that it was resolved to replace it with a new medal. The Committee of Polite Arts1 agreed at its meeting on 19 June 1801 to send the following letter to Barry and to four other artists: Robert Smirke (1753-1845), a member of the Royal Academy, the sculptor Charles Rossi (1762-1839), the painter John Flaxman (1755-1826), and William Stodart.

The Committee later asked the engraver and medallist Nathaniel Marchant (c.1738-1816; see DNB) to prepare a design; when he failed to do so, Flaxman was again approached in 1805; he produced a design which was adopted by the Society.

The Society decided not to accept Barry's design which had the heads of Minerva and Mercury. A medal from Barry's design is in the archives of the Royal Society of Arts. [img]

Full display


The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, having by their Commee Committee of Polite Arts determined to apply to you for a design for new dyes for a Medal2 & its reverse, I enclose you an Account of the premiums3 of the Society for your information relative to the objects proposed. The Commee Committee are particularly led to make this application, because they feel the utmost anxiety, that their medal shall exhibit the highest perfection to which the arts are arrived.

As the dyes will require a considerable time to execute, the Commee Committee beg the favour of you to deliver the designs previous to the 1st of of August, the day appointed for their reception.

Geo: George Meredith4