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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 41


page 269


1 "Orphrus."

The scenery of this picture exhibits a view of the mountainous and desert country of Thrace; near the centre of the piece is Orpheus, singing his poems, his right hand stretched towards heaven; and accompanying his instructive song upon the lyre suspended from his shoulder.

2 "A Grecian Harvest Home."

The season is as the title expresses, that of harvest; and as most of the persons represented are employed in rural sports, the evening is chosen as the most proper time for such relaxation from the labours of the field.

In the foreground is a double terminal figure of Sylvanus and Pan, with their proper attributes; round which young men and women are dancing to the music of a rural pipe and tabor. Behind them are oxen with a load of corn, and other characteristic marks of the season of the year.

The distant parts of the picture exhibit a view of a fertile cultivated country, with a farmhouse, near which are men wrestling, and engaged in other manly exercises; aged men are sitting and lying along, discoursing and enjoying a view of those athletic sports in which they can no longer engage, and a marriage procession is advancing from a distant temple.

3 "The Victors at Olympia."

In this picture the artist has chosen that point of time when the victors in the several games are passing in procession before the judges, where they are crowned with olive in the presence of all the Grecians. At the right hand corner of the piece, the three judges are seated on a throne, ornamented with medallions of Solon, Lycurgus, and other legislators, and with trophies of the victories of Salamis, Marathon, and Thermopylae Near the foot of the throne is a table, at which the scribe appears writing, in the Olympic records of noble deeds, the name, family, and country of the conqueror; near this table, a victor in the foot-race, having already received a branch of palm, which he holds in his hand, is being crowned; next him is a foot-racer, who ran armed with a helmet, spear, and shield. Close following is seen a manly group, formed of two athletic figures, bearing on their shoulders their aged father; one of these represents a pancratiast, the other the victor at the cestus. The old man is Diagoras of Rhodes, who, having in his youth been celebrated for his victories in the games, has, in his advanced age, the additional felicity of enjoying the fruits of the virtuous education he had given his sons, amidst the acclamations of the people of Greece, some of whom are strewing flowers around the old man's head, while one of his friends is grasping his right hand, and supposed to be making the celebrated speech recorded on this occasion, "Now, Diagoras, die, for thou canst not be made a god." Near this group are seen a number of persons, the chief of whom represents Pericles speaking to Cymon. Socrates, Euripides, and Sophocles, are earnestly attending to what is said by Pericles, whilst the malignant buffoon Aristophanes is ridiculing the deformity of the cranium of the speaker, which was unusually long. The painter has in the person of Pericles introduced the likeness of the late Earl of Chatham.

Sitting on the base of the statue of Hercules, the artist has introduced his own portrait, in the character of Timanthes, holding in his hand a picture of the Cyclops and Satyrs, as related by ancient writers.

4 "The Thames."

The artist has in this picture represented the Thames, of a venerable, majestic, and gracious aspect, sitting on the waters in a triumphant car, steering himself with one hand, and holding in the other the mariner's compass, by the use of which modern navigation connects places the most remote, and has arrived at a certainty, importance, and magnitude unknown to the ancient world. The car is borne along by our great navigators, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sebastian Cabot, and Captain Cook; in the front of the car, and apparently in the action of meeting it, are four figures, representing Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, ready to lay their several productions in the lap of the Thames.

Overhead is Mercury, the emblem of Commerce, summoning the nations together; and following the car are Nereids carrying several articles of the principal manufactures of Great Britain.

5 "The Society."

This picture represents the distribution of the rewards of the Society of Arts, founded in 1754 for the purpose of introducing and perfecting the useful arts in this country. Not far advanced from the left side of the picture stands the late Lord Romney, then President of the Society; near the President stands His Royal Highness the then Prince of Wales; and sitting in the comer of the picture, holding in his hand the plan of the institution, is Mr. William Shipley, "whose public spirit gave rise to this Society." In the back-ground appear part of the water-front of Somerset House, St. Paul's, and other objects in the vicinity and view of this Society as instituted at London. As a very large number of the rewards bestowed by the"Society had in Barry's day been distributed to promote the arts of painting and sculpture, the artist has also most judiciously introduced a picture and statue; the subject of the picture is the Fall of Lucifer, designed by Mr. Barry when the Royal Academy had selected six of the members to paint pictures for St. Paul's Cathedral; the statue is that of the "Grecian Mother Dying," and in those moments attentive only to the safety of her child. In the corners of the picture are represented many articles which have been invented or improved by the encouragement of this Society.

6 "Elysium, or the State of Final Retribution."

In this picture the artist has brought together those great and good men, of all ages and nations, who have acted as cultivators and benefactors to mankind.

In the top of the picture the painter has glanced at what is called by astronomers the system of systems, where the fixed stars, considered as so many suns, each with his several planets, are revolving round the Great Cause of all things; and, representing everything as affected by intelligence, has shown each system carried along in its revolution by an angel.

In the centre of the picture are animated portraits of the good and great of all ages; and in the other corner of the picture the artist has represented Tartarus, where are seen War, Gluttony, Extravagance, Detraction, Parsimony. Ambition, Tyranny, Hypocrisy, and Cruelty, with their proper attributes.

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7 "Portrait of the late James Barry, R.A." (Born 1741, died 1806.)

8 In Barry's original design the space at the end of the room, between the pictures of "Orpheus" and the "Grecian Harvest Home," was to have been filled with a portrait of George III.; and that between "The Thames" and "The Society," with a group representing Queen Charlotte superintending the education of her family at Windsor Castle. Barry did not live to complete these pictures, but his intentions were accurately recorded in this etching.

Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 are groups taken from the pictures Nos. 3 and 6.

16 "The Temptation of Adam."

17 "The Phœnix; or, the Resurrection' of Freedom."

A tablet in this picture is thus inscribed:—"O Liberty, thou parent of whatever is truly amiable and illustrious, associated with virtue, thou hatest the luxurious and intemperate, and hast successively abandoned thy loved residence of Greece, Italy, and thy more favoured England, when they grew corrupt and worthless; thou hast given them over to chains and despondency, and taken thy flight to a new people, of manners simple and untainted. Hallowed and venerable are thy footsteps. Time, that best arbiter, shall distinguish, and strew thy track with honours."

18 "Testimonial to the Memory of Charles James Fox."

19 "Job Reproved by his Friends."

Dedicated to Edmund Burke, Esq.

20 "Sacra Christa Familia."

21 "The Conversion of Polemon."

Polemon, an Athenian youth, returning home in the morning from his night's entertainment overcome with wine, saw the door of the philosopher Zenocrates open. He entered the school, which was filled with learned men, and endeavoured to disturb the company and the wisdom and eloquence of the speaker by his drunken jests. The countenance of Zenocrates still continued the same, and departing from the subject on which he was speaking, he began to discourse on modesty and temperance, by the gravity of which Polemon was so affected that from an infamous debauchee he became an illustrious philosopher, remarkable for his sobriety, virtue, and abilities, and succeeded Zcnocrates in the school of Plato.

22 "Philoctetes in the Island of lemnos."

This is an engraving of a picture in the institute at Bologna, inscribed to Sir George Saville, Bart.

23 "The Fall of Satan."

The Royal Academy having in the year 1773 selected six of the members to paint each a picture for St. Paul's Cathedral, this sketch of the Fall of Satan was the design executed by Barry for that purpose.

24 "Satan's Address to the Fallen Angels."

25 "Satan and Death."

26 "The Birth of Venus."

27 "King Lear."

28 "Portrait of Pitt, Earl of Chatham."

29 "Pandora."