Enfilade

Exhibition | No Cross, No Crown: Prints by James Barry

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 20, 2016

2015_001_014_v0001

James Barry, A Grecian Harvest Home, from the series The Progress of Human Culture, 1792, etching and engraving in black ink, 17 ½ x 20 15/16 inches (Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame: The William and Nancy Pressly Collection acquired with funds made available by the F. T. Stent Family, 2015.001.014).

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Press release (27 October 2015) from the Snite:

No Cross, No Crown: Prints by James Barry
Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 24 January — 17 April 2016

The Snite Museum of Art will present an exhibition of 28 monumental prints by James Barry, the eighteenth-century Irish provocateur whose work challenged the British art establishment and questioned the government’s policies. The exhibition No Cross, No Crown: Prints by James Barry will be on view from January 24 through April 17, 2016.

James Barry (1741–1806) was born in Cork, made his artistic debut in Dublin, and was awarded membership in the Royal Academy in London in 1773, although he was later expelled for his belligerence and acrimony. The series of six murals he painted to decorate the Great Room of the Royal Society of Arts in Adelphi from 1777 through 1783 is his claim to fame. Included in the exhibition is a complete set of the prints he made after these grand paintings, once referred to as Britain’s answer to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Barry’s prints are significant in the history of printmaking and eighteenth-century trans-Atlantic studies for their scale, their technical innovations, and the role they played in the artist’s creative process. These are not mere reproductive prints, but rather charts illustrating Barry’s evolving positions on hot political and artistic issues of the day. Peppering his religious and historical works with portraits of his contemporaries, such as the philosopher Edmund Burke and the politician William Pitt, the ensemble reads like a Who’s Who of British society in the late 1700s.

The Snite Museum acquired the prints in 2015 from Nancy and William Pressly, the latter being the foremost scholar on James Barry and professor emeritus of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art at the University of Maryland. Pressly said, “Over the years, as I looked and relooked at these prints, I was amazed at both the subtlety and richness of Barry’ process, but he never pursued virtuosity for its own sake: all is in the service of his passion to transform his audience, a transformation, however, that places great demands on his viewer.”

Pressly’s book James Barry’s Murals at the Royal Society of Arts: Envisioning a New Public Art (Cork 2015) received the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History in 2015.

The acquisition of eighteen of the prints was made possible by a generous gift from the F. T. Stent Family of Atlanta with ten additional prints donated by the Presslys. No Cross, No Crown: Prints by James Barry is made possible by the Snite Museum General Endowment.

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Programs
• Public reception Friday, February 12, 2016, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
• Gallery Talk at 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 17, by Patrick Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor of History.
• Gallery Talk at 12:30 p.m., Friday, April 1, by William Pressly, Professor Emeritus of Art History, University of Maryland.
• Lecture, 4:00–5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, “An Irishman’s Address to the English Establishment: James Barry’s Murals at the Society of Arts in London” by William Pressly, Professor Emeritus of Art History, University of Maryland.
All programs are free and open to the public.

 

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