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James Barry (11 October 1741 – 22 February 1806) was an Irish painter, best remembered for his six-part series of paintings entitled The Progress of Human Culture in the Great Room of the Royal Society of Arts in London. Because of his determination to create art according to his own principles rather than those of his patrons, he is also noted for being one of the earliest romantic painters working in Britain, though as an artist few rated him highly until the fully comprehensive 1983 exhibition at the Tate Gallery led to a reassessment of this "notoriously belligerent personality", who emerges as one of the most important Irish Neoclassical artists. He was also a profound influence on William Blake.

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Artist as subject

Film and audio

King Lear Weeping over the Dead Body of Cordelia by James Barry

RSC actor, Greg Hicks reflects on the complexities of Shakespeare's tragic hero and how the artist has explored these ...

King Lear Weeping over the Dead Body of Cordelia by James Barry

Tate curator, Tim Batchelor, talks about composition and the visual storytelling that appear in this picture.


Art Term


Neoclassicism was a particularly pure form of classicism that emerged from about 1750

Art Term


Term in use by the early nineteenth century to describe the movement in art and literature distinguished by a new ...

Tate Papers

William Blake’s 1809 Exhibition

David Blayney Brown and Martin Myrone

This paper introduces the 1809 London exhibition that William Blake organised of his own works, exploring its high ambition and ...

Tate Papers

An Alternative National Gallery: Blake’s 1809 Exhibition and the Attack on Evangelical Culture

Susan Matthews

This essay suggests that Blake’s 1809 exhibition was haunted by the memory of the Irish painter James Barry (1741 ...

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