An Inquiry into the Real and Imaginary Obstruction to the Acquisition of the Arts in England.

London, Printed for T. Becket, 1775

8vo, pp. vii, [1] (blank), [4], 227, title-page a little dust-soiled but a very good copy in contemporary cat’s paw calf, modestly gilt spine with red label. Contemporary ownership signature of John Savage to head of preface.

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First edition of the Irish painter James Barry’s first book which he had begun writing while in Rome and published a few years later, after he had become a member of the recently founded Royal Academy. It is a passionate plea for English patronage of the arts, especially painting. Barry noted that English collectors traditionally favoured Old Master pictures but were less enthusiastic in supporting native talent. Barry also argued that history painting needed public support beyond mere lip service.

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