Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Claude Francis Barry (1883 - 1970)   BIOGRAPHY

Monte Cassino, circa 1944
Framed (ref: 596)

Oil on canvas, 25 x 31 in. (63.5 x 80 cm.)


Provenance: the artist's estate; cat.463
Literature: Katie Campbell, Moon Behind Clouds: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Sir Claude Francis Barry, Jersey 1999, repr. p.74

'The last fifty years are the most terrible of which history has any record and many of those, myself included, who have lived through them have often wished that they had never been born' (Claude Francis Barry, quoted in Katie Campbell, Moon Behind Clouds, Jersey 1999, p.74).

Barry spent most of the inter-war years etching and painting on the Continent. He had a particular fondness for Italy and it was only with reluctance that, at the start of the war, he abandoned his studio in Milan and moved back to England to return to St Ives.

Both a pacifist and an enthusiast for Italy, it is not surprising that he responded strongly to the Italian Campaign, producing a series of poignant paintings and etchings, especially around the subject of Monte Cassino.Though a victory for the Allies, the Battle of Monte Cassino, which took place between January and May 1944, resulted in appalling lossses: 54,000 Allied casualties and 20,000 Germans. It also resulted in terrible damage to the town of Monte Cassino and the total destruction of the historic monastery. Barry himself suffered a devastating loss during the closing weeks of the Italian campaign: an American bomb exploded in Milan, destroying his studio with all of his etching plates.

Barry was interested in astronomy, and his pictures frequently evolve around scenes of moonlight and starlight. Monte Cassino shows the Plough (Ursa Major) rising above the crosses, with Venus appearing to the left.At first sight a poignantly bleak composition, Monte Cassino, like most of his war pictures, strikes a note of optimism: Venus (symbolising love) is ascending.

We are grateful to Robert Mitchell for his 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very full passport and his battered old eye-shade – was an unpublished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