A341: Priscilla Jones
View larger photo
© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Additional title||Portrait of the Artist's Wife, Priscilla Jones|
|Object type||In category: Pictures » Painting|
Barker, Thomas (English painter and lithographer, 1769-1847) - Painter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Northern Europe » British Isles » Great Britain » England » Bath|
80.7 cm width framed
76.2 cm height sight size
63.5 cm width sight size
94.5 cm height framed
7.5 cm depth framed
|Materials & techniques||
Pictures: Medium » Paint » Oil paint
Pictures: Support » Canvas
|Description||Three-quarter length portrait of a young woman standing between two Doric columns. Long loose dark brown hair, dark eyes, yellow straw hat tied under chin with yellow ribbons, white high-waisted muslin gown with white voile-trimmed chemise and narrow white sash, yellow shawl edged in brown, yellow-brown gloves. Terrace background with niches with sculpted figures. Italianate sky and trees.|
|Marks and inscriptions||
|Notes||Priscilla Jones (1779-1843) was an orphan who married Thomas Barker (1767-1847) in 1803.
According to Iain McCallum (see Literature, below), they may have met late in 1797, after Barker's mentor Charles Spackman sold All Saint's Chapel on Lansdown to a consortium that included Priscilla's aunt and guardian, Miss Ann Jones (1743-1818). At the end of 1797, Barker returned to Bath from London. By 1800, when Spackman left Bath, Barker was looking for his own home where he could live, work, and display his paintings. By 1801 Barker was courting Priscilla, and Ann Jones was a close friend of his family, and Ann agreed to allow Barker to build his house, gallery and studio on her land on Sion Hill on his marriage to Priscilla. They were engaged in 1802, and married in 1803.
During their engagement, Barker agreed to take on the land and part of the mortgage from Ann Jones. Miss Jones drew up a careful marriage settlement in favour of her niece. Meanwhile, Barker commissioned J.M. Gandy to design Doric House which still stands at the top of Cavendish Rd. The background to Priscilla's portrait, presumably painted around this time, seems to contain allusions to the severely neo-classical (Greek revival) style of the house.
The Barkers had ten children. McCallum gives some contemporary accounts of Priscilla's character and married life, the family's financial difficulties, her depression later in life and death in poverty at the end of 1843.
Traditionally dated c.1796, presumably because the self-portrait of Thomas from the same collection, now in the Tate collection (on loan to No. 1 Royal Crescent), is of the same dimensions and has been assumed to be a pendant. The Tate portrait is thought to have been painted around 1796, when Barker had returned from Italy and was presenting himself as an artist in London.
Picture and notification published in Apollo, August 1939.
Mary Holbrook “Painters in Bath in the Eighteenth Century”, Apollo 98, Nov. 1973, p.57, fig. 17
The Barkers of Bath, Exhibition catalogue, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, 1986, cat. 16
John Hayes The Portrait in British Art: Masterpieces bought with the help of the National Art Collections Fund, exhibition catalogue, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1991, cat. 47
Philippa Bishop Holburne Museum of Art: Souvenir Guidebook, Bath 1999, pp. 31-32, ill. p. 32
Iain McCallum Thomas Barker of Bath: The Artist and his Circle, Bath, 2003, ill. pl. 31
Amina Wright (ed.) Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait Painting in Bath 1720-1800, exhibition catalogue, the Holburne Museum of Art, Bath, 2002, cat. 64
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Art » The Barkers of Bath
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Leisure » Shopping & Fashion
|Method of acquisition||Gift|
|Provenance||By descent in the Barker family; Major G. S Hobson (grandson of Thomas Jones Barker); by whom sold to Arthur Tooth & Sons; bought by the NACF for £250 (with a self portrait of Thomas Barker now in Tate Gallery, N05044) and presented to the Holburne Museum, 1939.|
Title of exhibition: Barker of Bath
Title of exhibition: Gifts to Galleries
Title of exhibition: The Barkers of Bath
Title of exhibition: The Portrait in British Art: Masterpieces bought with the help of the National Art Collections Fund
Title of exhibition: The Beauties of Bath: The Holburne Museum revealed
Title of exhibition: Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait painting in Bath 1720-1800
Title of exhibition: Town House Treasures: Sir William Holburne of Bath