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Lord Baltimore and the Group of Legislators
On February 23, 1793, within a year of publishing his first set of etchings after the Royal Society of Arts paintings, Barry issued this print showing the detail of the group of legislators seen at the center of Elysium and Tartarus 2014.052.003. This allowed him to replace the figure of William Penn with that of Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, as the first man to establish a free society in North America…Barry further anticipated the reunion of all Christian sects under a papacy devoid of corrupting temporal ambitions (see Life and Art, pp. 173f.).
In support of this idiosyncratic ideology, Barry shows Pope Adrian reclining in the clouds at the upper left of the scene as he lectures the various figures, all opponents of ecclesiastical and political tyranny, on how this might be achieved. The angel at the far right strewing flowers above the legislators in a tartan costume is an idealized Mary Queen of Scots; the presence of the Catholic queen implies the artist’s condemnation of the Protestant regime of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. The Spartan legislator Lycurgus reads Baltimore’s code for Maryland while Numa Pompilius, William Penn, and Marcus Aurelius look on. And Lord Baltimore himself looks back to King Alfred who stands at his left shoulder, suggesting a long line of descent from the Anglo-Saxon monarch traditionally seen as the founder of the nation and its essential institutions, a defender of constitutional liberties and the ideal Christian king (although Protestant).
from Bindman, No Cross, No Crown: Prints by James Barry from the Collection of William L. and Nancy Pressly (Notre Dame, 2016)