The three horses standing quietly in a field, bathed in a warm light in the foreground of this work contrast with a busy, industrial view of Greenwich in the distance. These two worlds are divided by the pale blue barrier of the River Thames.
This landscape was formerly in the collection of George Beatson Blair of Whalley House, Whalley Range, Manchester. George and his brother James Thomas Blair had moved from Scotland to Manchester to run a family cotton-exporting firm. The brothers devoted much of their leisure time to collecting fine and decorative art.
George Barret senior was born in Dublin. He began his artistic career colouring engravings and taught drawing in Dublin while making his own studies of the landscape around the city. By the time Barret moved to London in around 1763, he had established a successful career. Barret became a founder member of the Royal Academy in 1768, exhibiting there until 1782. His landscapes, influenced by Dutch and Italian art, are predominantly views of the wilder areas of Britain, including part of Wales and the Lake District, but also include views of the country estates owned by his various patrons. He was appointed Official Painter to the Chelsea Hospital in 1782, but did not live to complete any work for the hospital.
Collection of George Beatson Blair of Whalley House, Manchester; collection of ‘Beckett’; by whom sold through Christie’s, London, on 6 February 1953 (Lot 142), for £14.14.0; from which sale purchased by ‘Eccles’ (David McAdam Eccles, first Viscount Eccles, 1904-1999) on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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