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James Barry, 1741–1806

The Education of Achilles [1772, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]

Former Title(s):

Chiron and Achilles

ca. 1772
Oil on canvas
40 1/2 x 50 3/4 inches (102.9 x 128.9 cm), Frame: 49 x 59 x 4 inches (124.5 x 149.9 x 10.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
art | centaurs | child | children | costume | death | diagram | gesture | Greek | herm | horse (animal) | infant | inscription | landscape | lyre | mathematics | men | mother | music | mythology | religious and mythological subject | shadow | shield | spear | statue | teaching | war | woman
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

After several years studying in Rome, the Irishman James Barry established himself in London in 1770. He exhibited The Education of Achilles at the Royal Academy in 1772, becoming a Royal Academician the following year. The painting, a statement of Barry’s classical ideals, shows the wise and learned centaur Chiron instructing the future hero Achilles in art (represented by the lyre), mathematics (the Euclidean diagram traced on the ground), and war (the spear and shield). A Greek inscription on the plinth supporting a mysterious veiled head translates as “all things: one and in one.” A startlingly original and inventive artist, Barry was also a political radical and contentious character, alienating both patrons and fellow artists and ending life isolated and impoverished.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Ireland - Art on a World Stage 1690-1840 (The Art Institute of Chicago, 2015-03-17 - 2015-06-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

James Barry (1741-1806) The Great Historical Painter (Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, 2005-10-24 - 2006-03-02) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Noble Horse (II) (The Bunkamaura Museum of Art, 2000-09-02 - 2000-10-22) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Noble Simplicity and Silent Greatness - Neoclassical Art from 1700 - 1900 (Yale University Art Gallery, 1991-04-26 - 1991-09-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

James Barry - Tate (Tate Britain, 1983-02-09 - 1983-03-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977-1986, Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1986, p. 10, no. 1, fig. 1, N590.2 A7 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Barrell, Birth of Pandora, and the Division of Knowledge , The Macmillan Company, 1992, pp. 202-203, no. 41, DA485 B26 1992 (YCBA) [YCBA]

James Barry, James Barry, 1741-1806, 'the great historical painter' , Crawford Art Gallery Gandon, Cork Kinsdale, 2005, pp. 11, 33, 38-39, 88-89, 178, 201, no. P11, NJ18 B2425 J35 2005 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Susan Bennett, Cultivating the human faculties, James Barry (1741-1806) and the Society of Arts , Lehigh University Press, Bethlehem, Pa., 2008, p. 108, fig. 30, NJ18 B2425 C85 2008 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Bindman, Barry at the Tate, London, Burlington Magazine, vol. 125, April 1918, p. 241, N1 B87 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catalogues of Pictures Exhibited at the Rooms of the Royal Academy, Library of the Fine Arts, vol. 2, December 1831, p. 405, no. 14, Available online: British Periodicals database [ORBIS]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 20-21, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Fintan Cullen, Visual Politics : the Representation of Ireland 1750-1930, , Cork University Press, Cork [Ireland], 1997, pp. 27-29, 37. 40, no. 13, N6782 C85 1997 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

L. Perry Curtis, Review of Visual Politics: The Representation of Ireland 1750-1930 by Fintan Cullan, , Victorian Studies, vol. 43, Autumn 2000, p. 162, Available online: JSTOR [ORBIS]

Tom Dunne, Cultural Role of the Visual, Irish Review, Autumn-Winter 1997, pp. 136-139, Available online: JSTOR [ORBIS]

Tom Dunne, James Barry, 1741-1806, history painter , Ashgate Publishing, Farnham, Surrey, England Burlington, VT, 2010, pp. 4, 78, NJ18.B2425 J34 2010 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 1, ND466 G67 (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Hauptman, Michel-Vincent Brandoin and Kauffman's 'Acontio', Notes in the History of Art, vol. 15, Spring 1996, pp. 14-19, 15, Available online: JSTOR [ORBIS]

William Laffan, Ireland : crossroads of art and design, 1690-1840, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2015, pp. 141, 142, 225, no. 11, fig. 4 (p. 142), N6787 .I74 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Liam Lehihan, The writings of James Barry and the genre of history painting, 1775-1809, Ashgate Publishing, Burlington, VT, 2014, pp. 7-9, fig. no. I.1, NJ18.B2425 L46 2014 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Huon Mallalieu, Dutch Mannerist Painting is Sold for £32,000, The Times (London), London, 15 March 1977, p. 18, Available online: The Times Digital Archive Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML) [ORBIS]

Peter Murray, Review of Visual Politics: The Representation of Ireland 1750-1930, , Irish Arts Review Yearbook, vol. 15, 1999, pp. 174-175, Available Online :JSTOR [ORBIS]

Noble Simplicity and Silent Greatness, Neoclassical Art, 1700-1900 , Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1991, p. 6, no. 6, N6425 N4 N63 1991 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Anna Ottani Cavina, Appunti : James Barry, un libro e una mostra , Paragone: Rivista mensile di arte figurative e letteratura fondata d Roberto Longhi, vol. 34, March 1983, p. 70, fig. 48, N4 P37 (HAAS) [ORBIS]

William L. Pressly, James Barry's murals at the Royal Society of Arts : envisioning a new public art, Cork University Press, Cork, Ireland, 2014, pp. 191, 197-205, 228, 307, fig. 30, NJ18.B2425 P725 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

William L. Pressly, James Barry, The Artist as Hero , Tate Publishing, London, 1983, pp. 55-56, no. 4, NJ18 B2425 P72 (YCBA) [YCBA]

William L. Pressly, Life and Art of James Barry, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1981, pp. 35-36, 40, 48, 54, 230, no. 10, pl. II, NJ18 B2425 P73 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Report on the Papers of Ozias Humphry, R.A. (1743-1810) in the Custody of the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1V ODS, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2004, p. 29, cat. HU/7/1, NJ18 H913 G74 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Duncan Robinson, Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977 - 1986, , Burlington Magazine, vol. 128, October 1986, p. 10, no. 1, fig. 1, N1 B87 128:3 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Royal Academy of Arts, Exhibition Catalogue. 1772. 4th, Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, no. 4, London, 1772, p. 4, no. 14, N5054 A53 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Walter G. Strickland, A dictionary of Irish artists, Maunsel & company, limited, Dublin London, UK, 1913, p. 43 (v. 1), N6782 S76 (YCBA) [YCBA]

The Noble Horse, From Pegasus to Thoroughbred , Television Tokyo Channel 12, Ltd., 2000, pp. 30, 113, English Catalogue p. 3, no. 8, pl. 8, N7668 H6 N6 2000 (YCBA) [YCBA]

The works of James Barry, Esq. Historical painter, ... Containing his correspondence from France and Italy with Mr. Burke - His lectures on painting delivered at the Royal Academy - Observations on differnt works of art in Italy and France - Critical remarks on the principal paintings of the Orleans Galle , John M'Creery, London, 1809, (vol 1) pp. 111, 241, N7445.2 B27 (YCBA) + [YCBA]

To James B___y, Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, 3 May 1773, p. 2, Available online: 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection [ORBIS]

To the Printer of the Middlesex Journal, Middlesex Journal, London, 23-25 April 1772, p. 4, Available online: 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection [ORBIS]

Malcolm Warner, Stubbs and the Horse, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2004, pp. 69-70, fig. 67, NJ18 St915 W37 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, Dictionary of British 18th Century Painters in Oils and Crayons, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1981, p. 42, ND466 +W38 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Iris Wien, Joshua Reynolds : Mythos und Metapher, Wilhelm Fink, Munchen, 2009, p. 387, fig. 120, NJ18.R36 W54 2009 [ORBIS]

Mick Wilson, Review of Visual Politics: the Representation of Ireland 1750-1930, , Circa Art Magazine, vol 81, Autumn 1997, p. 61, Available Online: JSTOR [ORBIS]

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