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rally strong, had been hardened with his ways of living, and promised to endure for many years. He had softened too the asperities of his manners, and, though the ecstasy of early thought was abated, many noble paintings were expected from his hand, now that at length his mind was eased by what he considered affluence, and he had no longer either committees or councils to disturb him. During the years which had passed since his expulsion from the Academy, he had been engaged on his great work on Theology; but a large piece now grew slowly under his hand—and indeed he appears never to have possessed that dashing alacrity of composition which distinguished most of the great Italian masters. He had been employed too, from time to time, upon his engravings; but upon the whole it may be said that, during these latter years of his life, he had mused much and wrought little. Nevertheless, high hopes were still entertained by his wellwishers.
No previous illness had given him warning when, on the evening of the sixth of February, 1806, he was seized, as he entered the house where he usually dined, with the cold fit of a pleuritic fever, of so intense a degree that all his powers were suspended, and he could neither speak nor move. Cordials were administered; he came a little to himself, and was conveyed in a coach to his own house; but some idle boys had plugged the keyhole with dirt and pebbles, and the door could not be opened. The night was dark and cold; he was shivering with disease, and a person who accompanied him carried him to the house of Mr. Bonomi. A bed was procured in the neighbourhood. Barry was laid down. He desired to be left alone, and bolted the door. So well were his orders obeyed, that he remained for forty hours without medical aid, and when it came it was too late. The disease had struck him mortally; a hot fit had succeeded the cold one, and he complained of a burning pain in his side and of difficulty of breathing. Ill as he was, he left his bed on the afternoon of the eighth, and repaired, pale and tottering, to Dr. Fryer, to make his complaint. He had a pain in his side, a short and incessant cough, quick and feeble pulse. He related that his friend Bonomi had made arrangements for receiving him into his house, spoke with warm feeling of the kindness of Mrs. Bonomi, and said how happy he would be there compared to under his own roof, where he had neither a servant nor a comfortable bed. Dr. Fryer requested him to go to his friend's house immediately, as he was more fit for his bed than making visits.
He went accordingly to Mr. Bonomi's, and thenceforth Dr. Fryer and Dr. Combe attended him instantly; but all skill was in vain. As the disease gained head he was warned of his approaching dissolution, and he heard of it as a thing neither to be desired nor dreaded. He conversed occasionally with much cheerfulness, and, having lingered till the twenty-second of February, expired in tranquillity and peace in the sixty-fifth year of his age. The Royal Academy had never proclaimed peace between them and their former Professor, and they now allowed his dust to remain unhonoured. The Society of Arts permittted his body to be borne from the hall of the Adelphi, which his genius had adorned, and Sir Robert Peel, who by the painter's sudden death had made a profitable bargain in the matter of the annuity, generously gave two hundred pounds to pay for his funeral, and raise a tablet in St. Paul's to his memory.
This conduct of the Academy was, no doubt, conformable to etiquette; but Barry, though he had sinned against their rules, had done nothing te lower him in the general estimation of mankind. He might be in their eyes a degraded Academician —no one could call him a degraded artist; and the remains, at least, of a man of genius had surely a claim to some concession at their hands. But a certain air of loftiness, it would seem, belongs to that body collectively, which its members never claim individually. The sway of Reynolds was resented so far, that numbers refused their concurrence to having his body laid out in state, as it is called, in their rooms, before interment. If their dignity required this severity in the case of one whose genius had in a great degree created and supported them, it required more in the case of him who had satirized and reproached them as men mean in spirit—whose mental vision was narrow, and who could only be credited on oath. They did accordingly what they could; they allowed Barry to be borne to his grave by hands that had never touched a pencil.
James Barry said seriously of himself, " I am a pock-pitted, hard-featured little fellow." He was in person under the middle size—the vicissitudes of fortune, frequent controversies, and bitter disappointments had impressed in early life the aspect of years upon his brow—his face was naturally gTave and saturnine, which gave uncommon sweetness to his smile, and great fierceness to his anger. If we lament his unhappy temper, we cannot refuse praise to the fortitude which baffled all manner of discomfort: he resided, without a murmur, in a house the perfect image of desolation—the rent walls admitted the wind, the shattered roof let in the rain: and there, without a servant—without even a decent bed, the companion of poverty and solitude, he painted many noble works. When he commenced his far-famed Six Pictures, he was advised by one who loved him, to take a better house, wear better clothes, hire a steady servant and set up a neat establishment. Barry answered, "The pride of honesty protests against such a rash speculation." Many are the stories which have been told concerning this singular man; they are chiefly ludicrous tales of privation and pride; such as are gladly remembered by those who love whatever lowers genius to their own level, and who are as incapable of honouring amid eccentricities what is high-minded and noble, as a pocket loadstone is of picking up an anchor.
Barry was the greatest enthusiast in art which this country ever produced—his passion for it almost amounted to madness; and but for his works, his words and actions might have been gravely cited in proof of mental alienation. He hungered and he thirsted, not figuratively, but truly, for its sake; and from boyhood to the tomb devoted all his faculties to establish a School of Painting, which, avoiding common or familiar subjects, should imbody only what is dignified, magnificent, or sublime. To this high task he brought an imagination second only to that of Fuseli, a strong love of the poetry of nature, an intimate knowledge of the works of the great masters, a deep feeling for their excellences, fine skill of hand, and unequalled fortitude and perseverance. That he failed to reap the harvest which such qualities and attainments promised, must be imputed mainly to his infirmity of temper, but partly also to what he so often complained of, the unawakened taste of the country for works of an historical nature. He wanted that graceful spirit which conciliates and, persuades—which, like the fabled Cestus of the goddess,
"Can from the wisest win their best resolves."
There were few at that time to patronise historical painting, save his Majesty; and West monopolized all subjects for the palaces, both sacred and profane. Portrait painters were the prosperous in British art, and few, save themselves, found the way to the tables and to the confidence of the great. Nor, hide^d, H'lle as it was then, has the love of historical [wnting much increased among us since; all the efforts of his present Majesty, of Sir George Beaumont, Sir John Leycester, Sir John Swinborne, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Egremont, the Duke of Bedford, and a few others, have been nearly in vain.
Other reasons, however, may be assigned for Barry's want of success. His first picture, the Legend of St. Patrick, was right—it was one of his own island's traditions—in it he heard the voice of Nature, and he who obeys her will seldom err. But afterward the miracles of Greece and the Vatican oppressed and enthralled his fancy. The artist who dicdains to work in the spirit of his own country will rarely work well in the spirit of any other. The names of Barry's pictures will tell where his heart was—Pandora, or the heathen Eve; the Conversion of Polemon in the presence of Xenocrates; the Birth of Venus; Philoctetus inLemnos; Jupiter and Juno—and many more. Affection for such subjects had long since fallen asleep, and it was not in the power of Barry to awaken it. To be truly classic he should have done for Britain what the artists of old did for Greece: their works are classical—not from being the offspring of a classic land, but because they were the imbodied poetry of its actual beauty and sentiment.
He turned, when it was too late, to the pages of Milton. The subjects which he sketched from the Paradise Lost were made when he was advanced in life, and he never finished them. They were as follows:—Satan rising from the fiery gulf; the Temptation of Adam; Satan meeting with Sin and Death; Adam and Eve after the Fall; the Triumph of Michael and Fall of the Rebel Angels; Satan in Paradise; the Descent of the Guardian Angels; Satan detected by Ithuriel; and Adam's Vision of the Misery of his Posterity. On several of these subjects Fuseli also tried his hand. They are such II.—K