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James Barry

1741 - 1806

The Glorious Sextumvirate by James Barry

The Glorious Sextumvirate   1795

  Original etching and engraving.
With the artist’s name in the plate.
Ref:  Pressly 30 only state.
S 942 x 679 mm; P & I  748 x 476 mm
Original James Barry etching and engraving.

This etching by James Barry is derived from his own composition of Elysium and Tartarus, the final subject in Barry's enormous cycle of paintings designed to decorate the Great Room of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in London - the works upon which James Barry's lasting fame now rests. This elaborate project, which was to include three historical and three allegorical subjects, was effectively unsalaried and was to occupy more than six years of Barry’s life. During these years he was forced to rely largely on the profits from his etchings to maintain himself.

In the foreground, this etching shows Jonathan Swift’s ‘glorious sextumvirate’ each member of which had died for the cause of liberty. Their grouping is based upon an extract from Gulliver’s Travels in which Gulliver, given the opportunity to talk with any one of the dead, chose Brutus, who informed him that this group of famed martyrs were now in perpetual companionship. Behind them stands Christopher Columbus alongside distinguished philosophers and other famous men from throughout the ages. James Barry went to great lengths to produce what were considered accurate historical portraits of each of the characters included in these compositions.

Very good, strong impression in the completed state, as published in 1808. On heavy wove paper with margins and with central fold (as issued). Very slight waterstain at extreme edge of sheet, not affecting the image, otherwise generally very good original condition.