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Joseph Barney

Joseph Barney

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Joseph Barney was an English artist and engraver. He is usually described as a pupil of Antonio Zucchi
Antonio Zucchi
Antonio Zucchi was an Italian painter of the Neoclassic period. Born in Venice and died in Rome. He married the painter Angelica Kauffmann, who late in life, moved with him to Rome. He produced a number of etchings of capriccio and veduta of classical buildings or ruins. He worked with Robert Adam...

 and Angelica Kauffmann
Angelica Kauffmann
Maria Anna Angelika/Angelica Katharina Kauffman was a Swiss-Austrian Neoclassical painter. Kauffman is the preferred spelling of her name; it is the form she herself used most in signing her correspondence, documents and paintings.- Early years :She was born at Chur in Graubünden, Switzerland,...

 and as a fruit and flower painter to the Prince Regent
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

. He was born in Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. For Eurostat purposes Walsall and Wolverhampton is a NUTS 3 region and is one of five boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "West Midlands" NUTS 2 region...

.

Two of his large-scale paintings - altar pieces ‘The Deposition from the Cross’ (1781) and ‘The Apparition of Our Lord to St Thomas’ (1784) have been preserved in Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. For Eurostat purposes Walsall and Wolverhampton is a NUTS 3 region and is one of five boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "West Midlands" NUTS 2 region...

, and can be seen today at St John’s church and at St Peter & St Paul’s Roman Catholic church. During Barney’s life-time, his artistic achievements were respected and praised. In 1798, Stebbing Shaw, mentioning ‘The Deposition from the Cross’ in his ‘History of Staffordshire’ called Barney a ‘native genius’ of Wolverhampton. In the collection of Wolverhampton Art Gallery, there is a pen and ink drawing, ‘A Blind Musician’, which gives some additional idea of quality and versatility of Barney’s works.

Early years


Wolverhampton archival materials and other local documents identify Joseph Barney as a son of Joseph Barney Snr., a local japanner
Japanning
Japanning describes the European imitation of Asian lacquerwork, originally used on furniture. The word originated in the 17th century.- Japanned :Japanned is most often a heavy black lacquer, almost like enamel paint...

, and, from 1780–1802, a partner of the Barney & Ryton, japanners. His mother was Eleanor, née Denholm. Being a son of a japanner, he received some artistic training and indeed started his artistic career painting flowers which were a popular decoration for japanned ware.

Studying in London


Barney came to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 from Wolverhampton before or in 1774, as in that year he received from the Royal Society of Arts
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

 "a Silver Palette for a drawing of flowers". Barney indeed studied with Zucchi some time between c.1774 and 1780, as in 1777 he exhibited at the Society of Artists
Society of Artists
The Society of Artists of Great Britain was founded in London in May 1761 by an association of artists in order to provide a venue for the public exhibition of recent work by living artists, such as was having success in the long-established Paris salons....

 "at Mr Zucchi’s, John Street, Adelphi". But the statement in the Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography
The Dictionary of National Biography is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published from 1885...

- "studied under the Italian decorative painter Antonio Zucchi (1726–1795) and Angelica Kaufmann (1741–1807), exhibiting from their London address in 1777" must be challenged. Angelica Kauffmann did not share the home with Zucchi, and lived at 16, Golden Square, chaperoned by her father. Barney must have known Angelica as a co-founder of the Academy of Art, an extremely popular and successful artist, and his mentor’s future wife. He obviously was much influenced by her works, but so far, there is no documentary evidence of Barney being a pupil of Angelica Kauffmann.

During his lifetime, Barney exhibited more than hundred artworks at the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 and the British Institution
British Institution
The British Institution was a private 19th-century society in London formed to exhibit the works of living and dead artists; it was also known as the Pall Mall Picture Galleries or the British Gallery...

. Their subjects demonstrate that the established description of Barney as "Fruit and Flower Painter" is inadequate. Only a small number of exhibited works are "flower pieces". The great majority of recorded Barney’s works are religious, historic, literature, and genre paintings, which express his strong ambition to become a historic painter. While the Silver Palette of 1774 was given for his early flower designs, the Gold Palette was awarded to him in 1781 for his historical drawings.

Working for Matthew Boulton: mechanical paintings


Barney returned to Wolverhampton in about 1779, as in August 1779 he married Jane Whiston Chambers (or Chandler) at St John’s chapel, Wolverhampton. In October 1780, their first child was born. It was imperative to obtain means to support his new family. No later than in November 1779 he started to collaborate with Matthew Boulton
Matthew Boulton
Matthew Boulton, FRS was an English manufacturer and business partner of Scottish engineer James Watt. In the final quarter of the 18th century the partnership installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines, which were a great advance on the state of the art, making possible the...

 (1728–1809) and his Soho manufactory, assisting in the production of so-called mechanical paintings. His duties were to touch and finish in paint images of original paintings which were mechanically reproduced on paper or canvas. He worked on paintings after Sir Joshua Reynolds
Joshua Reynolds
Sir Joshua Reynolds RA FRS FRSA was an influential 18th-century English painter, specialising in portraits and promoting the "Grand Style" in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was one of the founders and first President of the Royal Academy...

, Benjamin West
Benjamin West
Benjamin West, RA was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence...

, Joseph Wright of Derby
Joseph Wright of Derby
Joseph Wright , styled Wright of Derby, was an English landscape and portrait painter. He has been acclaimed as "the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution"....

, Antonio Zucchi
Antonio Zucchi
Antonio Zucchi was an Italian painter of the Neoclassic period. Born in Venice and died in Rome. He married the painter Angelica Kauffmann, who late in life, moved with him to Rome. He produced a number of etchings of capriccio and veduta of classical buildings or ruins. He worked with Robert Adam...

 and Angelica Kauffmann
Angelica Kauffmann
Maria Anna Angelika/Angelica Katharina Kauffman was a Swiss-Austrian Neoclassical painter. Kauffman is the preferred spelling of her name; it is the form she herself used most in signing her correspondence, documents and paintings.- Early years :She was born at Chur in Graubünden, Switzerland,...

. All paintings associated with Joseph Barney from the Soho period, be it mechanical or original, are figurative. Many of them, like Benjamin West’s and Angelica Kauffmann’s works, are complex many-figures compositions.

Matthew Boulton and Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood was an English potter, founder of the Wedgwood company, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. A prominent abolitionist, Wedgwood is remembered for his "Am I Not A Man And A Brother?" anti-slavery medallion. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family...

 both possessed mechanical paintings finished by Barney. Other customers were Mrs Elizabeth Montagu
Elizabeth Montagu
Elizabeth Montagu was a British social reformer, patron of the arts, salonist, literary critic, and writer who helped organize and lead the bluestocking society...

 (1718–1800), Sir Sampson Eardley, 1st Baron Eardley
Sampson Eardley, 1st Baron Eardley
Sampson Eardley, 1st Baron Eardley , known as Sampson Gideon until 1789, was the son of another Sampson Gideon , a Jewish banker in the City of London who advised the British government in the 1740s and 1750s.He served as Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire from 1770 to 1780, Midhurst from 1780...

(1744–1824); possibly, Beilby Porteus, the Bishop of Chester and a well-known abolitionist (1731–1809); Lord Macclesfield and, possibly, Isaac Hawkins Browne
Isaac Hawkins Browne (coalowner)
Isaac Hawkins Browne was a British Tory politician, industrialist, essayist, and a lord of the manor of Badger, Shropshire.-Family and education:...

.

Independent artist


In 1781, Boulton was ceasing the production of mechanical paintings, thus Barney’s collaboration with Soho manufactory finished. In 1784, Barney still was in the Midlands, painting his second altar piece, ‘The Apparition of Our Lord to St Thomas’ for St Peter & St Paul’s Roman Catholic church, and exhibiting at the Royal Academy from Summer Hill, Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

. Between 1786 and 1793, he lived in London, at 29, Tottenham Street, actively exhibiting figurative and historic paintings at the Royal Academy, although The London Book Trade names him as an engraver and print-seller. His "Scene in the ‘Tempest" exhibited in 1788 might indicate his ambition to join the Boydell’s Shakespeare Project
Boydell Shakespeare Gallery
The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery in London, England, was the first stage of a three-part project initiated in November 1786 by engraver and publisher John Boydell in an effort to foster a school of British history painting...

 in which his friends Benjamin West
Benjamin West
Benjamin West, RA was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence...

 and Angelica Kauffmann participated.

In October 1793 he took the post of the Second Drawing Master for Figures at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and moved to Greenwich
Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

. He remained at the Academy until 1820.
The role of Drawing Master for Figures obviously influenced Barney’s later subjects, increasingly sentimental, but still figurative, not ‘fruit and flowers’. They also reveal his close collaboration with Francis Wheatley
Francis Wheatley (painter)
Francis Wheatley was an English portrait and landscape painter.-Life and work:Wheatley was born at Wild Court, Covent Garden, London, the son of a master tailor. He studied at William Shipley's drawing school and the Royal Academy, and won several prizes from the Society of Arts...

 (1747–1801), Charles Turner (engraver)
Charles Turner (engraver)
Charles Turner was an English mezzotint engraver and draughtsman. Through his mother's influence he had access to the famous gallery at Blenheim Palace...

 (1774–1857), William Hamilton (painter)
William Hamilton (painter)
William Hamilton was an English painter and illustrator.Hamiliton was born in Chelsea, London, but travelled and worked in Italy with Antonio Zucchi for several years. He trained first as an architectural draftsman, but soon moved to theatrical portraits and scenes from plays...

 (1751–1801), Thomas Gaugain (1756–1812). But, on the whole, his late works are of inferior quality in comparison with his early paintings. In 1796, a reviewer of the 1796 exhibition at the Royal Academy commented on Barney's 'Inside of a Stable': "We have seen a great many better things of this sort than this is - it wants effect and truth of colouring. - Apropos, where is Morland?"

Joseph Barney did not fulfil his artistic ambitions. His name is associated today with short-lived enterprise of mechanical paintings, a small number of ‘fruit and flowers’ pieces, and cheap sentimental colour prints, if not practically forgotten. The present location of most of his large-scale historic and religious paintings is unknown. But their number and their titles which correspond to those by leading artists of that time indicate his sound presence in London artistic world of the late 18th-early 19th centuries. Barney’s early altar pieces which survive in Wolverhampton, give a good idea about his strong artistic potential which was recognised and respected by his contemporaries.

Reporting Barney’s death in April 1832, The Staffordshire Advertiser wrote: ‘On the 13th inst., at his house, Stanhope-Terrace, Regent’s Park, London, Joseph Barney, Esq. [died], aged 77. He was an eminent painter, and for more than 30 years drawing master at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. The altar pieces at St John’s Church and at the Catholic Chapel, in Wolverhampton, of which he was native, formed lasting monuments of his skill as an artist.’

Children


1. Jane Whiston, b.1780.

2. Joseph (1783-after 1851). Became an artist and started to exhibit in 1817 from his father’s address in Greenwich; in 1818 moved to 17, Great Smith Street, Westminster
Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and southwest of Charing Cross...

, and finally to Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, from where he exhibited until 1842. He was a drawing teacher, exclusively a fruit and flower artist, and in the late 1830s became a Fruit and Flower Painter to Queen Victoria. It may well be that some artworks by Joseph Barney-son have been ascribed to his father.

3. William Whiston, b.1785. Received artistic training from S. W. Reynolds. Later abandoned his artistic career, joined the army, and distinguished himself in the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

.

4. George
George Barney
George Barney was a Royal Engineer officer and became Lieutenant Governor of the Colony of North Australia.-Early life:...

 (1792–1862). Became a soldier and military engineer who also served in the Peninsular War and in the West Indies, and later took a significant place in the history of Australia.

5. Sophia, b.1793.

6. John Edward (1796–1855).

7. Ellen, b. 1799.

External links