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James Barry

1741 - 1806

Queen Isabella, Las Casas and Magellan by James Barry

Queen Isabella, Las Casas and Magellan   1800

  Original etching and engraving.
Ref: Pressly 31 ii/ii
S 933 x 640 mm; P & I 711 x 126 mm
Original James Barry etching and engraving.

Very good, strong impression in the completed state, as published in 1808.

Designed as an additional detail to Barry's composition of Elysium in the Great Room of the Adclphi, this slim etching was supposed to be positioned in the artist's concept of Elysium between Reserved Knowledge and The Glorious Sextumvirate, in close association with the portrait of Cloumbus. It is discussed by William Pressly as follows: "It calls attention to Queen Isabella's having pawned the jewels of her crown in order to finance Columbus's first voyage to America, an act which Barry had saluted in his original description of the series as an example of enlightened patronage. Beneath her sits Las Casas, a Dominican who vigorously opposed the brutal treatment of the Indians in the Americas. Nowhere was Catholicism more vulnerable to the criticism that it was a religion which endorsed the barbaric exploitation of other peoples than in the opening up of the New World. The etching is meant as a defense of the Catholic treatment of the Indians, for Barry intended that the viewer should distinguish between the true spirit of Roman Catholicism as practiced by the queen and the bishop and the colonial atrocities inflicted by the majority who were Catholic in name only. Lacking portraits of these two leading protagonists, he had them face inward." (W.L. Pressly The Life and Art of James Barry, Yale University Press, 1981, pp. 174-5)

A particularly fine impression for this edition. On firm wove paper with margins and with central fold, as issued. Some discolouration and spotting towards top of sheet, otherwise generally very good original condition.