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Title: The Birth of Venus
Author: Barry, James (Irish painter, printmaker, and lithographer, 1741-1806, active in England)
Issue Date: 1983
Publisher: The Tate Gallery
Citation: William L. Pressly, 'James Barry: Artist as Hero', London: The Tate Gallery, 1983, p 122-3, no 65
Description: 'This print offers a different version of Venus' birth than does the painting 'Venus Rising from the Sea'(cgjc0766). Following an alternate tradition, Barry now depicts her nestled in a large shell held aloft by Neptune. This print is one of his most successful aquatints, in that it comes closest to the style of his wash drawings with their senuous tonal qualities and emphasis on abstract surface rhythms. In the sky there are six different tones forming highly complex patterns, and the brushstrokes applying the varnish are clearly visible in the richly textured lower edge of the shell. The valves of this shell, despite their receding ribbing, tend to flatten out against the picture surface, and even Venus' exaggeratedly full thighs are compressed within a shallow plane. The sensuous curves and countercurves are continued in the sea creatures sporting beneath and in the three worshipful tritons pressed together in a compact grouping. Unusual for such an early date is the artist's dramatic play with scale. Neptune is an immense colossus who cannot be adequately contained even within the print's expansive format. In this instance Barry had difficulty deciding on an appropriate dedication. The phrase 'humbly inscrib'd to' was later followed by 'our unparalleled females', which was then replaced by 'Her Grace the [blank]'. His penchant, however, for dedicating his prints, again underlines how much more closely they are linked to contemporary affairs than are his oils.' (Pressly, 122-3)
Role: artist
Culture: Irish
Dimensions/Extent: 40.3 cm x 58.3 cm
Period: 18th century
Work: prints (visual works)
Appears in Collections:TRIARC - Crookshank-Glin Collection (Digital Image Collection)

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