James Barry
The Phoenix or the Resurrection of Freedom 1776–1808

Artwork details

James Barry 1741–1806
Date 1776–1808
Medium Etching, line engraving and aquatint on paper
Dimensions Image: 433 x 613 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1992
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

Barry was a close friend of the politician Edmund Burke and shared his hostility to King George III's and his government's repression of the American colonies in their War of Independence (1775-83). Blake felt similarly but never produced, for such wide circulation as Barry did with this print, so direct an attack on the government. Barry makes clear his sympathy for the Americans by including a self-portrait among the mourners for the dead Britannia. She has died because the liberties which once held sway in Britain had now fled to America where, phoenix-like, they are reborn. The seventeenth century poet John Milton, who was an advocate of individual liberty, is also one of the mourners.

August 2004

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