Private Collection

Barry, Claude Francis

(1883 – 1970)

Peace Night, 1919

Oil on canvas

Signed ‘C F Barry’

76 3/4 x 63 1/3 in. (195 x 166 cm)

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Seymour Stein the Vice President of Warner Brothers Music, 1980s; Private Collection;

Exhibited: Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1921; ‘Sea Change: Art in St Ives Between the Wars’, Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance, 11 September –  20 November, 2010.  

Peace Night, 1919, Claude Barry captures a momentous period in history with extraordinary beauty, serenity and heightened feeling. 

In 1908, the newlyweds Claude Francis Barry and Doris Hume-Spry joined artists Laura Knight, Augustus John and Alfred Munnings, who had all settled in St Ives. Here Barry became an active member of the St Ives Club, later becoming club treasurer, and learnt to paint with a looser, more individual style. With the outbreak of the First World War, the artistic community of St Ives was largely disbanded with many of the artists called away for military service. Possibly on account of his Pacifist convictions, or perhaps his mental health, Barry was not conscripted to fight but instead assigned to agricultural labour, to support the production of supplies for troops at the front. This left him in a prime position to record war on the Homefront. 

Although hostilities ceased with the Armistice on 11 November 1918, the First World War did not end officially until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919. In Britain, Peace Day was celebrated on Saturday 19 July with a Victory Parade of unprecedented scale. Reporting on the celebrations, The Sphere wrote that: 

‘Nowhere during the peace rejoicings were the crowds massed more thickly than in Trafalgar Square, which were filled to overflowing by people dancing and generally making merry. Some enterprising folk had found a place in the trees, the better to enjoy the sight of the moving, singing throng below. Towering above the waiting crowd was the column, wreathed with laurel and with red and white bunting and long naval pennants fluttering in the breeze.’ August 2nd, 1919. 

Barry’s lifelong exploration of the French Pointillist technique – separating colours into dots which form vibrant tones across the picture surface – make him one of the key exponents of this style in 20th century British Art. In his paintings of the First and Second World Wars, with their trademark searchlights over London, he created his most memorable cycle of works.

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THE ARTIST

Barry, Claude Francis

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

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