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JAMES BARRY Cork, Ireland 1741 – 1806 London
Pen lithograph; circa 1803. Pressly 38. Published in Phillip André s Specimens of Polyautography, 1803, the first edition, with the brown aquatint border support sheet (a second edition was published in 1806; the support sheets of that second edition had a yellow border instead of the earlier brown border). A brilliant impression in excellent, fresh condition, some mottling of the aquatint border.
Aloys Senefelder had invented lithography around 1799 in order to reproduce sheet music inexpensively. In a remarkably short period of time, this new graphic medium had spread throughout Europe. English artists were especially receptive to this new technique, among them James Barry.
Barry, a member of the Royal Academy from 1773 until his expulsion in 1799, owing to his personal eccentricity, his Catholicism and his left-wing political sympathies, was one of the great painters of history subjects of the period and an inspiration to such artists as Runciman, Mortimer, Romney, Fuseli and Blake.
His King Lear is one of the most impressive early lithographs in England and now quite rare. The bold design has few parallels in early English lithography, or printmaking in general.
235 x 322 mm. 9 ¼ x 12 11/16 inches