- Home ›
- The Distribution of Premiums at the Society of Arts ›
The Distribution of Premiums at the Society of Arts
The Distribution of Premiums in the Society of Arts was the fifth print in the series of prints. In it, Barry shows members of the Society, attired in sometimes peculiar approximations of classical dress, distributing awards promoting the arts, agriculture, manufacture, and commerce. The distinguished figures here are divided into four main groups, dominated from the left by the Society’s president, Lord Romney, and the Prince of Wales in cloak, short tunic, and dagger but with a contemporary wig; Elizabeth Montagu presenting a young girl to the Duchess of Northumberland; and, to their right, Samuel Johnson, who alerts the Duchesses of Rutland and Devonshire to the latter’s beneficence. On the far right, members of the Society examine works by a young candidate (see Pressly in cat. London, p. 84). Barry champions not only the Society’s patronage of the arts but also represents in the background his version of Somerset House, home of the Royal Academy, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, an institution seen as having the potential to encourage religious art.
from Bindman, No Cross, No Crown: Prints by James Barry from the Collection of William L. and Nancy Pressly (Notre Dame, 2016)