Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Claude Francis Barry (1883 - 1970)   BIOGRAPHY

London Blitz, 1940
Framed (ref: 586)

Signed, inscribed with title and date on the reverse
Oil on canvas, 

36 x 36 in. (90 x 90 cm)


Provenance: the artistís estate; cat.798

Exhibited: The Royal Society of British Artists,1944. WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 26.

Literature: Katie Campbell, Moon Behind Clouds: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Sir Claude Francis Barry, Jersey 1999, repr. p.79. WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 26, page 64.

Barry's striking image of the Tower of London during the Blitz is closely related to his Heart of the Empire (see cat.36) in its neo-pointillist treatment and the futuristic use of searchlights, infuenced by Nevinson, to heighten the sense of a state of alert for an aerial attack by the German Luftwaffe.And once again he has re-arranged the actual scene for artistic effect in a delightfully romantic way.

The painting's viewpoint is the eastern of the two riverside towers of the White Tower, William the Conqueror's moated fortress located within the walls of the Tower of London,designed to impress upon the population thepower of the Norman Kingís recent occupation of Britain.On the skyline, above the old London Bridge,reading from left to right,are depicted Southwark Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament,the slim tower of Westminster Cathedral,one of the Victorian towers of Cannon Street Station, and Wrenís Monument to the Great Fire of 1666.Inevitably and rightly, St Paul's Cathedral dominates the scene.The left foreground, however, while charming and verdant,is entirely fanciful.In reality, for obvious defensive purposes,the Tower of London always had its feet in the waters of the Thames.The pretty ogival lead-cap with weather-vane of the tower in the foreground was one of Wren's attractive embellishments.As for the picturesque Tudor dwellings shown,they are actually half-timbered and sited on Tower Green,which is due west,not south,of the White Tower. No matter; the image is wonderfully evocative of an ancient city optimistically preparing to defend itself against the enemy, and as such is a work of art, not a dry topographical study.

A boat is shown moored at Tower Pier.Aptly for Barry's subject, and as a poignant coda, this was the departure point, after the State Funeral at St Paul's Cathedral on 30 January 1965, of Sir Winston Churchill.

We are grateful to Michael Barker for the above text,and to David Capps, Graham Miller and Robert Mitchell for their assistance.

Claude Francis Barry (1883 - 1970)

Much of Barry's early life has been pieced together from letters found
in his briefcase after his death. Also in the briefcase – along with a
very full passport and his battered old eye-shade – was an unpublished
manuscript on painting. This is the source of his quoted pronouncements
on life and art.

1883 Claude Francis Barry born in England to British parents
1885 His mother dies when he is two years old
1897 Goes to Harrow, leaves after two years due to a nervous breakdown
1899 Travels to Italy with a doctor - a drawing and painting tour
1900 Returns to England where Sir Alfred East R.A tutors Barry
1906 First paintings accepted at Royal Academy. Joins Royal Society of
British Artists
Exhibits at Royal Society of Scottish Artists
Exhibits at Salon Des Artistes Francais
1909 Has a daughter, Kathleen; 1910 Son Rupert is born; 1915 Second
daughter Sheila is born
1915 R.A submissions show shift from narrative to landscape
1916 Tutored by Frank Brangwyn. Barry begins etching
1917 Exhibits etchings with Royal Society of Scottish Artists
1922 Leaves family in England and travels in France and Italy to
concentrate on etching
Exhibits at Paris Salon throughout 1920s and 1930s
Awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for his etchings in France and Italy
Queen Mary, Neville Chamberlain and Mussolini are patrons of Barry's work
1927 Marries second wife Violet Gwendolyn Pretyman
1939 Returns to St. Ives after storing his etching plates in Milan
1940 Joins St. Ives Arts Club and befriends Hepworth and Nicholson
Works in Alfred East's old studio on Porthmeor beach
Returns to oil painting
1943 Paints wartime “blitz paintings” in pointillist technique
1944 A US bomb explodes in Milan destroying all his etching plates
1945 Holds last exhibition in St. Ives and moves to Jersey
1946 Inherits title- third baronet of St. Leonard's Hill, Berkshire and
Keiss Castle, Caithnessshire
1957 Second wife dies of cancer
1960s Barry moves in with friend Tom Skinner and his family in Jersey
1968 Stops working and moves into a nursing home in Kent
1970 Dies and leaves his remaining works to Tom Skinner

See all works by Claude Francis Barry