Barret, George

, an English landscape painter, was born about 1728, in the city of Dublin. It is not known that he received any regular instructions in painting. He began his attempts in the very humble line of colouring prints, in which he was employed by one Silcock, in Nicholas street, Dublin. From this feeble commencement he rose to considerable powers as a landscape painter, by studying from the scenes of nature in the Dargies, and in | the park at Powerscourt, places near Dublin, and is said to have received patronage and encouragement from the noble owner of Powerscourt. About this time a premium was offered by the Dublin society for the best landscape in oil, which Mr. Barret won. In 1762 he visited London, where he soon distinguished himself; and, the second year after his arrival, gained the premium given by the society for the encouragement of arts, &c. for the best landscape in oil. The establishment of the royal academy was in a great measure indebted to the efforts of Mr. Barret, who formed the plan, and became one of its members.

He had two decided manners of painting, both with regard to colour and touch; his first was rather heavy in both, his latter much lighter. Scarcely any painter equalled him in his knowledge or characteristic execution of the detuils of nature. His attention was chiefly directed to the true colour of English scenery, its richness, dewy freshness, and that peculiar verdure, especially in the vernal months, which is so totally different from the colouring of those masters who have formed themselves on Italian scenery or Italian pictures. This strong desire sometimes tempted him to use colours rich and beautiful when first applied, but which no art could render permanent; which, in some of his slighter works, prevailed to such a degree as to leave scarcely any traces of the original colouring.

The best pictures in his first manner are to be found in the houses of the dukes of Buccleugh and Portland, c. &c. and those of his latter, in his great work, at Mr. Lock’s, at Norbury-park, Surrey, consisting of a large room painted with a continued scene entirely round. The idea in general characterizes the northern part of this country; and for composition, breadth of effect, truth of colour, and boldness of manner in the execution, has not been equalled by any modern painter. He exerted his powers to the utmost in this work, as he entertained the warmest sense of Mr. Lock’s great kindness and friendly patronage. He also painted in water-colours, in which he excelled.

As a man he was remarkably kind and friendly, gentle in manners, with a vast flow of spirits, even to playfulness, and a strong turn to wit and humour. For the last ten years of his life, he was obliged, on account of his health, to retire to Paddington, near London, where he painted (in conjunction with Mr. Gilpin, the celebrated animal-painter) some of his best easel-pictures. He died in March 1734, | and was interred in Paddington church-yard, leaving a widow and nine children. In the latter part of his life he enjoyed the place of master painter to Chelsea hospital, an appointment conferred Oh him by Edmund Bnrke, esq. during his short administration. Barret left some etchings of his performances, the best of which is a view in the Dargles near Dublin. The plates of his etchings were purchased by Mr. Paul Sand by, but no impressions have been taken from them. 1


Pilkington’s Dict. Fxiwards’s Anecdotes of Painters/