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Tom Dunne and William L. Pressly, eds., James Barry, 1741–1806: History Painter

Dennis M. Read


William Blake considered James Barry a kindred spirit. In his annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Blake wrote,

Who will Dare to Say that Polite Art is Encouraged, or Either Wished or Tolerated in a Nation where The Society for the Encouragement of Art. Sufferd Barry to Give them, his Labour for Nothing[.] A Society … Suffering an Artist to Starve while he Supported Really what They under pretence of Encouraging were Endeavouring to Depress.—Barry told me that while he Did that Work—he Lived on Bread & Apples[.] (E 636)

Blake was referring to Barry’s The Progress of Human Culture, a project he began for the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1777 and finished seven years later.

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