Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Study for Divine Justice

James Barry (Irish, Cork 1741–1806 London)
ca. 1802
Pen and brown ink with gray wash over graphite
Sheet: 27 7/16 in. × 19 in. (69.7 × 48.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Charles and Jessie Price Gift, in honor of George R. Goldner, 2015
Accession Number:
Not on view
Barry presents rows of historical figures attended by angels, the imagery derived from "Elysium and Tartarus," one of his murals in the Great Room at the Society of the Arts, London. Painted between 1777 and 1783, the work celebrates "those great and good men of all ages and nations, who were cultivators and benefactors of mankind." Ranged at top are Trajan, Titus, Peter the Great, Henry IV of France, Andrea Doria of Genoa, Scipio Africanus, Cosimo de' Medici, Alexander the Great, Louis XIV, and Pope Julius II. Immediately below, the theologians Origen, Pascal, Bossuet, Antoine Arnauld, and Bishop Butler converse with angels. Finally, the sublime form of Divine Justice rests at the edge of Tartarus and tilts her scales toward the abyss to suggest the historical prevalence of evil over good. Barry made this drawing to create an etching at the same scale to help disseminate his ideas. Bold outlines combine with expressive wash, and incised lines demonstrate how the the artist transfered forms to a copper printing plate.
Sabin Galleries (London), by 1967; William L. Pressly, from the preceding in 1981; C. G. Boerner, New York, in 2015; Vendor: C. G. Boerner LLC, New York
Angelika Kauffmann und ihre Zeitgenossen. Exh. cat., Vorarlberger Landesmuseum, Bregenz, and Oesterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna. 1968, cat. no. 114, p. 90.

William L. Pressly The Life and Art of James Barry. New Haven and London, 1981, cat. no. 45, p. 252.

William L. Pressly James Barry: The Artist as Hero Exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, February 9–March 20. 1983, cat. no. 41, p. 95.

William L. Pressly James Barry, 1741-1806: 'The Great Historical Painter' Exh. cat., Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. Tom Dunne, 2005, p. 105.

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