|The town of Wolverhampton, West Midlands, is justly
proud to be a native place of an interesting 18th
century artist, Joseph Barney. His two altar pieces,
'The Deposition from the Cross' (1781) and 'The
Apparition of Our Lord to St Thomas' (1784), have
been preserved in Wolverhampton, well-known, and can be
seen today at St John's Church and at St Peter & St
Paul's Roman Catholic Church.
Barney. The Deposition from the Cross. 1781.
St. John’s Church, Wolverhampton.
Barney. The Apparition of Our Lord to St
Thomas. 1784. SS Peter & Paul’s Roman
Catholic Church, Wolverhampton
Joseph Barney. A Blind Musician. Late 18th
|During Barney's life time, his artistic achievements
were respected and praised, at least, locally. In 1798,
Stebbing Shaw, mentioning 'The Deposition from the
Cross' in his 'History of Staffordshire'
called Barney a 'native genius' of Wolverhampton.
In the collection of Wolverhampton Art Gallery, there is
his charming sentimental pen and ink drawing 'A Blind
Musician' which gives some additional idea of
quality and versatility of Barney's works.
|Unfortunately, a detailed monographic research into
his life and work has never been undertaken. Modern
historians of the 18th century and museum curators
usually come across his name in the references sections
of books on Angelica Kauffman, where he routinely is
described as a pupil of Antonio Zucchi and Angelica
Kauffman, and a 'fruit and flower painter to Prince
Fruit and Flower Painter?
Such a description should be challenged because Barney's
altar pieces immediately and clearly indicate his
ambition to become a historic painter.
Barney's characteristic tag as 'Fruit and Flower
painter' appeared in Michael Bryan's
'Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and
first edition of which was indeed published during
Barney's lifetime. Moreover, the comparison of different
Wolverhampton trade directories and other sources
helps to identify Joseph Barney-artist as a son of
Joseph Barney Senior, a japanner and a partner of
japanned ware business of Barney & Ryton between
|Thus we can conclude that indeed he received some
initial artistic training in painting fruit and flowers
which related to his father's japanned ware business.
When in or before 1774 Joseph Barney came to London he
received from the Royal Society of Arts 'a Silver
Palette for a drawing of flowers'
award, however, indicates his initial training in his
native town but not his established specialization.
In 1883, George Wallis wrote that Barney 'visited
the old friends, my relatives, who, as a boy of 13 or
14, I have heard speak of him as coming from London and
/…/ of his great ability as flower painter.'
In 1938, a 'flower painting by Barney' was
offered to Wolverhampton Art Gallery by George Staveley
Hill, but not acquired. It seems that it might have
been not the oil painting, but a magnificently painted
japanned tray which was described and reproduced in
black/white by G Bernard Hughes in 1950, and belonged at
that time to Mrs E. Staveley-Hill.
Joseph Barney. Flower Piece which belonged to Mrs E.
Staveley-Hill. Present location unknown.
Piece wrongly attributed to J Barney
and dated 1840s-1850s. Image: Witt Library.
|However, the analysis of the 75 works which he
exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1784 to 1827, shows
that only seven ones dealt with fruit and flowers. From
49 works shown at the British Institution from 1806 to
1839, only fifteen depict these subjects.
The file for Joseph Barney at the Witt Library
contains 14 images of his works, all of which, except
only one, are figurative. This only flower painting is
dated 1840s which obviously contradicts with dates of
A pair of portraits by Joseph Barney of Mr & Mrs
Barney of Wolverhampton, the artist's father and mother,
were offered for sale in 2003.
From the close cap of Mrs Barney and the full-bottomed
wig of Mr Barney they can be dated 'early 1770s'.
Joseph Barney. Portraits
of Mr and Mrs Barney, parents of the artist. C.1770s.
|At the same sale, the portrait of
James Barney, brother of the artist, appeared. If these portraits
are indeed by Joseph Barney, they introduce his early exercises in
portraiture. Among his later works there were no less than three
other portraits - of Mrs Barney, possibly his wife (1803), of Mr
Hicks (1813) and of a Young Lady (1817). All these works demonstrate
his strong inclination towards historic and religious painting and
experiments with portraiture.
Pupil of Angelica Kauffman?
Published sources keep repeating after Bryan that Barney 'studied
under the Italian decorative painter Antonio Zucchi (1726-1795) and
Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), exhibiting from their London address
in 1777. His early work favoured the same neo-classical style of
decorative and historical painting.'
 This information also should
alert the historians: both Zucchi and Kauffman were figirative and
decorative artists, did not paint fruit and flowers, and
consequently did not train in this genre.
Barney did indeed study with Antonio Zucchi, as in 1777 he exhibited
at the Society of Artists from 'at Mr Zucchi's, John Street,
Adelphi'. But so far there is no documentary evidence of Barney
studying with Angelica Kauffman - as Zucchi and Kauffman never had
the same address in London. She lived at 16, Golden Square, closely
chaperoned by her father. They started to share the address after
their marriage in July 1784, but they left England for the Continent
several days later. Of course, living in London and being a part of
artistic scene at Antonio Zucchi's house, Barney must have known
Angelica Kauffman as a co-founder of the Royal Academy of Art and a
highly popular artist, and even been acquainted with her directly,
but this does not make him Kauffman's pupil.
The very fact of Barney's association with Zucchi also confirms his
development as a historic painter. The Gold Palette was awarded to
him in 1781 for historical drawings. Among five Barney's works
exhibited at Society of Artists in 1777-1783 from Antonio Zucchi's
house in John Street, Adelphi and from Wolverhampton, two paintings
- 'Portrait of a Lady in the Character of the Comic Muse' and
from Spencer's Fairy Queene' - reflect his interest in historic
genre, and reveal intellectual and artistic atmosphere of Zucchi's
studio: at that time, the Spencer's poem was extremely popular
responding to the romantic longings of the generation. The Faerie Queene inspired paintings by Benjamin West and Henry Fuseli. Barney
would return to the Spencer's poem later in his life, exhibiting in
1827 'Mercy and the Red Cross Knight entering the Cave'.
On the whole, Barney's spell in London in the 1770s was marked by
the Silver and Gold Palettes, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and
the Society of Artists, mixing with the leading artists of the time.
It can be considered as a promising beginning of a successful
Back in Wolverhampton. Mechanical paintings for Matthew Boulton
Barney returned to Wolverhampton in about 1779, as in August 1779 he
married Jane Whiston Chambers
at St John's chapel, Wolverhampton,
for which two years later he would paint the altarpiece. In October
1780, their first child was born. It was imperative for him to
obtain means to support his new family. Interesting, that despite
his initial training and obvuios painting skills, he he did not join
his father's japanned business which would bring financial income,
but not independent artistic career and reputation.
In 1970, Eric Robinson and Keith R. Thompson, analyzing available
information on Matthew Boulton's mysterious mechanical paintings,
revealed Barney's collaboration with the Soho factory. business,
although in their paper Barney remained an under-researched
background figure without any mentioning of his own works .
|The process of production of the mechanical paintings remains a
mystery even today, despite the efforts of several generations of
the researchers. It seems that with the help of some mechanical
device, the image of original painting was printed on primed paper
or canvas and then finished manually.
It was this last stage of the
production where the professional artists were involved. Barney
started to collaborate with Soho no later than in November 1779.
The nature of work and the payment were obviously
lower than his artistic ambitions and abilities, and
appeared very disappointing financially. It seems that
on the early stage of the enterprise he had to correct
and finish mechanical paintings after unskilled
a mechanical painting finished by Joseph
Barney: Benjamin West. Erasistratus the
Physician Discovers the Love of Antiochus
for Stratonice. 1772. ©Birmingham Museum of
Original for a mechanical painting finished by Joseph
Barney: Angelica Kauffman. Telemachus on His Return to
His Mother.1770-1780. ©Mead Art Museum, USA.
|James Keir wrote: 'Mr Barney, not having any work
for sale, proposes to begin some painting for your own
account, which he says you ordered him to do. I desired
him to let me know the prices of the several pictures
you spoke of. /…/ The prices /…/ are lower than any he
has hitherto done. We acquainted him that the business
was not such as could afford his prices, and therefore
he must not depend altogether on Soho for employment. He
consented to work by day to retouch the boys' pictures,
at 10/6 per day.'
The prospect 'to retouch boys'
pictures' was hardly satisfactory. Indeed, his
1781-1782 correspondence with the Soho employee John
Hodges and Francis Eginton shows that this retouching
took rather short time. Barney's further involvement on
the process and his associations with fellow artists,
particularly with Benjamin West, would be much more
active, creative and multifaceted.
Also, it is worth noticing, that along
with Joseph Barney, at least two other artists worked on
mechanical paintings. Each of them had some
specialization, and Barney's one emerges as figurative
From several contemporary inventories of mechanical paintings and
contemporary correspondence the following mechanical pictures can be
identified as finished by Joseph Barney:
'Hebe' (Portrait of Miss Meyer as Hebe), after Sir Joshua Reynolds;
'The Physician Erasistratus discovering the love of Antiochus for
Stratonice' and 'The Death of General Wolfe', after Benjamin West;
'The Forge', after Joseph Wright of Derby;
'The Wise Men's Offering', after Antonio Zucchi;
'Penelope weeping over the Bow of Ulysses';
'Calypso mourning the
departure of Ulysses'; 'Cupid bound by the Graces' ;
Struggling with the Graces'; 'The Graces Dancing',
and 'Charity', 'St Catherine' (possibly
'Marriage of St Catherine of
Alexandria'), 'Telemachus at the Court of Sparta';
His Return to His Mother'; 'Rinaldo and Armida'; 'Time and Cupid',
discovering herself to Trenmore', all after Angelica Kauffman.
Original for a mechanical painting finished by Joseph
Barney: A Kauffman. Trenmore and Imbaca, from
© Private collection.
|It is probably from his finishing of mechanical paintings the
conclusion emerged about Barney being a pupil of Angelica Kauffman.
But it is worth mentioning that in the correspondence between Barney
and Soho factory the names of Kauffman's characters 'Trenmore' and 'Imbaca'
are constantly misspelled. This fact indicates Barney's
unfamiliarity with James Macpherson's 'Ossian', and also raises
additional doubts in his close contact with Angelica Kauffman in
1770s, as she painted her painting when Barney was supposedly her
pupil, and if so, he should have been familiar with it.
Original for a mechanical painting
finished by J. Barney:
Benjamin West. The Cave of Despair, 1776.
©Yale Center for British Art. Paul Mellon Collection.
|In Barney's correspondence there are references to a few additional
paintings which were not mentioned in either Inventory: 'The Cave of
Despair' and 'Daniel Interpreting the Writing on the Wall' after
Benjamin West, 'Patience' and 'Perseverance'
Angelica Kauffman, the 'Good Shepard' (the artist not mentioned),
two circular paintings 'Cupid Triumphant' and 'Graces breaking
Cupid's bow' (also after Angelica Kauffman), and four bas-reliefs
with unidentified subjects.
The work on mechanical paintings was a slow and difficult process.
Working on Matthew Boulton's personal order, Barney did not succeed
with 'Antiochus and Stratonice' and wrote on the 17th May 1781:
am sorry I have not succeeded in my endeavours to please Mr Boulton
on the last picture. /…/ I certainly shall feel sensibly the having
such picture as Stratonice returned upon my hands but if Mr Boulton
chooses to send me over the printed impression I will make as good a
picture of it as I probably can. /…/'
a mechanical painting finished by J Barney
Benjamin West. Daniel Interpreting
Scriptures on the Wall. 1775. ©Berkshire
Museum, Pittsburg, MA.
|When a month later it still
was not good, Barney wrote on 29th of June: 'I should take it as a
favour if you will please to forward one of the pictures of Stratonice which I am to paint for Mr Boulton as I purpose being in
London in about a fortnight and taking the picture in order to
finish it from the original at Mr West's.'
All paintings associated with Joseph Barney from the Soho period, be
it mechanical or original, are figurative. His fondness of Benjamin
West's works is particularly evident. Many of them, along with
large-scale paintings by Angelica Kauffman, are complex
many-figures compositions. Touching and painting their mechanically
reproduced copies invariably employed the close observation of their
technique, colours, and artist's style and manner. However
slave-like and ungrateful Barney's work was, it provided a great
deal of training and artistic practice. Barney's abilities in
figurative painting were appreciated at Soho. At least three other
artists were employed for finishing mechanical paintings - Mr
Richard Wilson, Mr Simmons, and Mr Parsons - but Joseph Barney was
considered the best by his Soho employers. When in 1780 an impatient
customer wanted to purchase mechanical paintings which were not in
the sale room, and did not want to wait, he was offered mechanical
paintings which were in the possession of Matthew Boulton himself on
the understanding that they can be easily substituted by a skilful
artist and even be of a better quality.
Hodges wrote to Matthew
Boulton: 'R Barwell, Esq. of Ormond Street, London, visited Soho and
ordered upwards of £85 worth of pictures. He chose them chiefly from
those at your house, and as he wanted them sooner than in was
possible to get them up, (by Mrs Boulton permission) we purpose
taking two pieces out of your room, ie the Physician Erasistratus
and the large Good Sheperd, which pieces I learn may be substituted
by Mr Barney better than those…'
 In 1781, Isaac Hawkins Browne
(1745-1818), refurbishing his home at Badger Hall, desired to
decorate it with mechanical paintings. Boulton and Fothergill,
however, were ceasing the production, but they referred him to
Barney, obviously giving him the best recommendations. Expressing
his disappointment, Browne wrote back: 'I am obliged to you for your
recommendation of Mr Barney. I shall certainly pay attention to his
Who bought mechanical paintings finished by Joseph Barney?
Modern researchers have noticed that Josiah Wedgwood, surprisingly,
used very few of Angelica Kauffman's works in his classical designs
for jasper ware. But at least he did acquire mechanical paintings
after Kauffman's designs: Barney's Graces breaking Cupid's bow and
Cupid struggling to recover his arrows were made for Josiah
Wedgwood. Along with Wedgwood and Boulton, Barney's other customers
were Mrs Elizabeth Montague (1720-1800), Sir Sampson Gideon
(1744-1824), and, possibly, Beilby Porteus, the Bishop of Chester
and a well-known abolitionist (1731 - 1809), Lord Macclesfield and
Isaac Hawkins Browne, if he followed Boulton's recommendation.
Joseph Barney's own paintings
Working for Soho, he at the same time painted his 'Deposition from
the Cross' for St John's church, Wolverhampton. Hundred years later,
referring to the account of the painter and engraver John Whessel
(1760-1824) who had lived in Wolverhampton in the 1780s and known
Barney, James P. Jones wrote that Barney had painted each figure
from life, and while having difficulties with the image of Joseph of
Arimathea, he 'saw a very indigent man on the street, whose face
just met his idea. He invited him to his studio and sketched him
onto canvas.'  In some indirect way, this again confirms Barney's
familiarity with portrait painting. One of his letters to Soho
reveals a touching detail of this work: 'I write this in bed having
had the misfortune to fall as I was painting at the Altar piece by
which I have totally lamed myself for some weeks…'
In 1784, Barney still was in the Midlands, painting his second altar
piece, 'The Apparition of Our Lord to St Thomas' for St Peter & St
Paul's Roman Catholic church, and exhibiting at the Royal Academy
from Summer Hill, Birmingham.
It also seems that he painted other, his own, pictures, and possibly
was allowed to sell them from the Soho showroom. On 12th June 1781
he wrote to Soho: 'Please to let the large picture stand in the Toy
Room until I see you. There is a large picture of mine in the Toy
Room where I used to paint. It is a big picture of Eneas.'
 There is
no record of any mechanical painting with a subject from the
Virgil's 'Aeneid' in the Soho Inventories, thus it is possible that
it was Barney's original painting. In May 1782, when the production
of mechanical paintings at Soho ceased, and Barney's collaboration
with Soho ended, he wrote: 'I have sent two pictures by the bearer viz:
Time and Cupid and Cupid bound to a tree. I have
likewise sent every thing I had in possession belonging
to Soho. /…/ If you have any other command please to
send them by the bearer to whom I should be glad you
will deliver my picture of the Forge.'
 Although one of
mechanical pictures represented 'The Forge' after Wright of Derby,
it is possible to suppose that in this particular case he also
mentioned an original painting by himself which may or may not have
been inspired by Wright of Derby.
Joseph Barney's japanned ware
Considering rather inadequate payment offered by Soho, it is clear
that Barney desperately needed another source of income, and it is
very likely that he decorated his father's japanned ware, although
not formally joining the business. In 1883, George Wallis wrote:
'Joseph Barney /…/ painted trays for a japanning concern in the town
of which his father was proprietor.'
Japanned tray ‘Jerusalem Hath Sinned’. J Sankey & Co.
Bilston, mid-19th C.
|Unfortunately, japanned ware
are mainly anonymous, thus their identification and attribution is
very difficult and often muddled:
In 1950, Bernard Hughes
confidently attributed to Barney a magnificent round
japanned tray painted with a 'scriptural' scene, which
at that point the author had seen in the collection of
Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
In 1964, reproducing this tray in their book 'English Decorated
Trays', John and Jacqueline Simcox named the scene 'Jerusalem Hath
Sinned', and repeated the attribution to Joseph Barney and to the
firm of Bevins & Barney. But at the same time, they dated the object
'c.1835-1845' which contradicts with the artist's life dates.
In fact, this tray had been loaned to the Gallery by Mrs G.Sankey-
the fact which immediately challenges the attribution to the Bevins
& Barney business.
|On the lists of material on loan for the insurance
purposes, which were compiled by the Gallery in 1974 and
1977, it has the same attribution to Joseph Barney, but
the obvious discrepancy in dates was corrected to
'early 19th century'.
In 1982, in the Catalogue of Georgian and
Victorian Japanned Ware published by Wolverhampton
Art Gallery, the name of the painter disappeared, and
the tray was described as made by J. Sankey & Co, Bilston in the
mid-19th century. The tray does not bear any stamp of Sankey
& Co. The original source of its decoration was not
established. It might have been an engraving by John
Rogers (c.1808-1888) which is dated 'c.1860'.
John Rogers (c.1808-1888). ‘Jerusalem Hath Sinned’.
Japanned tray ‘Finding of Moses’. Joseph Sankey &
Sons Ltd, Bilston, mid-19th C.
|WD John and Jacqueline Simcox also ascribed to Joseph Barney a large
tray painted with the 'Finding of Moses'. This tray is
well known in Wolverhampton.
Its origin at Joseph Sankey & Sons Ltd,
Bilston has been firmly established, although its date is doubtful.
According to Wolverhampton local information, it was made for the
Great Exhibition of 1851. But in fact, Joseph Sankey was born in
1827 and started his business in the middle of the 1850s, several
years after the Great Exhibition.
Thus if the origin and dates of
both trays are correct, they cannot be attributed to Joseph Barney.
In fact, with the absence of documentary evidence any attribution is
|Barney's correspondence with Soho confirms that he often borrowed
prints and engravings from Matthew Boulton's house, particularly
those after Benjamin West and Angelica Kauffman, for working on
mechanical paintings, but also probably for decorating the japanned
ware. In June 1781, he wrote: 'General Wolfe and Daniel
Interpreting the Writing on the Wall belong to Mr
Boulton. /…/ Mr Boulton has a print of the Cave of
Despair which I hope he will lend me for a short time'
George Wallis remarked: 'I have myself seen trays
attributed to Angelica Kauffman, being from the
subjects which I had no doubts were really painted by
|In Wolverhampton context, Barney's work on a large mechanical
painting after 'The Death of General Wolfe' by Benjamin West is of
particular interest - in 1972, Wolverhampton Art Gallery acquired a
japanned tin serving tray painted with this scene. John
and Jaqueline Simcox reproduced a similar tin tray from an American
private collection, painted with the same subject but of a different
shape, and dated it 'c.1800.'
Wolverhampton tray was described in 1982 Catalogue as
'English or Welsh' and dated 'c.1795', which was
probably based on J and J Simcox' book.
Japanned tray painted with ‘Death of General Wolfe’
after B. West.© WAG.
|Considering the presence of the engraving and the mechanical
impression of the West's painting at Barney's home in 1781, it is
possible to date these tin trays 'c.1780s', and if not to attribute
to, but at least to associate it with Joseph Barney himself, or with
Barney & Ryton (although again all attributions remain highly
In July 1800, Barney paid a brief visit to the Midlands, and called
at Soho to borrow a picture on which he had worked long ago: Sir, it
is so long since I had the pleasure at assisting you that I may
probably be erased from your recollection, indeed it is necessary to
apologise for troubling you on the present occasion which is to
request that you will have the goodness to lend me the small picture
of the Good Shepard in order that I may make a sketch from it whilst
I remain in this part of the country. Your consent signified in any
way you think proper to Mr Eginton will greatly oblige.
to borrow a picture also can be understood as a need to have some
original for a decoration of a japanned tray. However, it is hardly
possible to confidently attribute any unsigned japanned object to
Joseph Barney without any firm documentary evidence.
At the cross-roads
The production of mechanical paintings was a rather short-lived
enterprise. In May 1782, Barney's collaboration with Soho ended, and
finding another position which would satisfy his goals and ambitions
appeared not easy. Between 1786 and 1793, we see him in London, at
29, Tottenham Street, actively exhibiting figurative and historic
paintings at the Royal Academy. The London Book Trade names him as
an engraver and print-seller. His
'Scene in the 'Tempest'' exhibited
in 1788 might indicate his ambition to join the Boydell's
Shakespeare Project in which his friends Benjamin West and Angelica
In October 1793 Barney took the post of the Second Drawing Master
for Figures at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (which again
contradicts with his characteristic as 'fruit and flower' painter)
and moved to Greenwich. There he remained until 1820.
after F.Wheatley. Fisherman’s Return. 1793.
||The role of Drawing Master for Figures obviously influenced Barney's
later subjects, increasingly sentimental, of lesser artistic quality
then his earlier works, but still figurative, not 'fruit and
flowers'. They reveal his close collaboration with Francis Wheatley
(1747-1801), Charles Turner (1774-1857), William Hamilton
(1751-1801), Thomas Gaugain (1756-1812).
In July 1811, the 'Wolverhampton Chronicle' proudly
announced that 'Mr Joseph Barney, Professor of Figure
and Perspective Drawing to the Royal Military Academy at
Woolwich, is appointed Painter in Flowers and Fruit to
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Mr Barney is a
native of this town and it gives as a pleasure to learn
that His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, whose taste
for the Fine Art is so universally acknowledged, has
honoured him with so distinguished mark of his
|This title confirmed his
artistic efforts, but hardly recognised his lifelong artistic
ambitions: even as 'Painter on Flowers and Fruit' he did not
increase a number of exhibited still-life pieces and continued
presenting himself as a historical artist, exhibiting his early
works - the 'Lame Man healed by St Peter and St John' was exhibited
in 1786, 1802, and 1814; the 'Manoah Sacrifice' - in 1798, 1819, and
1820. 'Belisarius' was shown five times: in 1784, 1806,
1809, 1821, and 1822.
The titles of some other exhibited artworks correspond
with paintings by Antonio Zucchi and Benjamin West, with which he
worked producing mechanical paintings: the 'Wise Men's Offering' was
shown in 1818 and 1820, the 'Daniel Explaining to Belshazzar the
Writing on the Wall' - in 1824 and 1827. The title of the painting
exhibited in 1822 at the Royal Academy, 'The Graces Adorning the
Bust of Princess Charlotte', suspiciously reminds about Angelica
Kauffman's 1770s works.
It is impossible to believe that Barney
exhibited some surplus of mechanical paintings as his own original
works, thus these were probably versions, or inspired by the same
Thomas Gaugain after
Joseph Barney. The Show Man (La Pièce
Joseph Barney. The Thatcher. 1802.
|G. B. Hughes wrote in 1950 that towards the end of his life, Barney
had returned to Wolverhampton, and painted japanned trays for his
brother, partner in Bevan & Barney.
This information has not been
confirmed by other sources: Graves' Dictionaries show that even
having retired from the Woolwich Military Academy, Barney continued
exhibiting from London addresses, although indeed he often visited
his relatives in Wolverhampton.
The current entry for Joseph Barney in the DNB does not provide full
information about his family. Wolverhampton sources mention the
daughter Jane Whiston, born in October 1780. A son Joseph, the
future artist, was born in April 1783. He started to exhibit in
1817 from his father's address in Greenwich; in 1818 he moved to 17,
Great Smith Street, Westminster, and finally to Southampton, from
where he exhibited until 1842.
He was a drawing teacher,
exclusively a fruit and flower artist, and in the late 1830s became
a Fruit and Flower Painter to Queen Victoria. Another Barney's son
was a promising printmaker and publisher William Whiston Barney, a
pupil of S.W.Reynolds.
He, however, abandoned his artistic career,
joined the army, and distinguished himself in the Peninsular War.
According to Australian sources, a third son, George (1792-1862)
born in Wolverhampton, became a soldier and military engineer who
also served in the Peninsular War and in the West Indies, and later
took a significant place in the history of Australia. In May 1793,
a daughter Sophia was born in Greenwich, in 1796 - a son John
Edward, and in 1799 - a daughter Ellen.
The fact that in the family there were three artists with the same
name - Joseph Barney Senior (Wolverhampton Japanner), Joseph Barney
Junior (artist and pupil of Zucchi) and Joseph Barney- Fruit and
Flower Painter to Queen Victoria - who worked in similar style,
definitely caused confusion between them.
In 1997, Keith Jobst, an Australian and a distant descendant of
Joseph Barney, published in Brisbane a book 'The Barneys'.
1835-1865'. It is mainly dedicated to Barney's children and
grandchildren, but the first chapter gives an overview of the
artist's life and work. Unfortunately it is mainly based on already
known sources. On 25th March 2004, the Wolverhampton newspaper 'The
Black Country Bugle' published a large article 'The Wolverhampton
Painter of the Black Country's own 'Passion of the Christ'
- and his
Illustrious Ancestors'. The author in a rather unfortunate way
tried to establish links between Joseph Barney and Mel Gibson's film
'Passions of Christ' which was released at that time. The article is
partly based on already known sources, including Keith Jobst's book,
but at the same time it ignores important facets of Barney's life
and work. The absence of references makes the article unreliable.
The conclusion: artistic legacy
The conclusion is that, unfortunately, Joseph Barney did not manage
to fulfil his artistic ambitions and establish himself as a historic
painter. His name is associated today with short-lived enterprise of
mechanical paintings, obscure 'fruit and flowers', and cheap
sentimental colour prints, if not practically forgotten. The
location of his large-scale historic and religious paintings is
unknown. Maybe this is the time to start looking for his artistic
legacy, and to remind about respect which his contemporaries paid to
him. Reporting Barney's death in April 1832, The Staffordshire
Advertiser wrote: 'On the 13th inst., at his house,
Stanhope-Terrace, Regent's Park, London, Joseph Barney, Esq. [died],
aged 77. He was an eminent painter, and for more than 30 years
drawing master at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. The altar
pieces at St John's Church and at the Catholic Chapel, in
Wolverhampton, of which he was native, formed lasting monuments of
his skill as an artist.'
 Shaw, Stebbing. History of
Staffordshire. Vol.2, part.1. 1798. P.164.
 Late 18th century trade directories of
Wolverhampton and Staffordshire record the presence in
Wolverhampton of several entrepreneurs named Barney, who
may or may not be members of the same family:
In 1770, three businesses of Barneys were recorded in
1. Joseph Barney, corn factor and mealman. He lived in
Lichfield Street in 1767-84.
2. Benjamin Barney, smooth file maker, was in Stafford
3. Barney & Ryton, japanners, coffin plate chasers and
merchants, also were situated in Stafford Street.
In 1780, several additional businesses were recorded:
4. James Barney, ironmonger and locksmith, in Dudley
5. Mrs Barney, a milliner, in Church Yard;
6. Joseph Barney, ‘unqualified painter’, who had his
lodgings in Horse Fair between 1780 and 1782.
The 1783 Directory mentions only Barney & Ryton,
japanners, in Stafford Street, and Joseph Barney, a corn
factor. In 1792, Benjamin Barney, a file maker, still
continued his business. Joseph Barney-japanner moved to
the Queen Street. In 48, Dudley Street appeared inn
keepers Elizabeth Barney, widow, and Eleanor Barney. At
50, Horse Fair, John Barney, jeweller, has been
recorded. In 1802, Joseph Barney in 5, Queen Street was
listed among tinplate workers (makers of blank trays).
Barney & Bevins continued their japanned ware business
in Goat Street.
An additional document is
preserved in Birmingham Diocesan Archives: Indenture of
a lease of a dwelling house in Stafford Street by Joseph
Barney, Japanner, from Benjamin Barney, file maker, for
one year, signed on 6th January 1788. It helps to
identify Joseph Barney Senior, the father of the artist,
as a japanner in Stafford Street and a partner of Barney
& Ryton between 1780-1802. The ‘unqualified painter’ who
lodged in 1780-82 in Horse Fair is his son, the artist
Joseph Barney Junior. The fact that at his native town
he was at that time considered ‘junior’ is confirmed by
documents related to the commission of the painting for
St John’s: ‘to article with Mr Jos.Barney Jun’r to
paint and complete’ the altarpiece’. Local documents
help to recognise James Barney-ironmonger as a brother
of the artist. He seems to abandon his ironmonging trade
and became a keeper of the ‘Castle Inn’. Thus he does
not seem to have had artistic training. He died between
1785-1792, thus his business was continued by his widow
and daughter, and finally sold in 1811. Barney the
partner of Bevins in 1802 may indeed be another brother
of Joseph Barney Junior (as mentioned in Cleevely’s
entry for DNB, 2008), but his given name was not found
in the local historic listings.
 The date of Joseph Barney’s birth has
not been established for sure, as the baptism records of
Wolverhampton St Peter’s church do not contain the
record for Joseph Barney. R. J. Cleevely, the compiler
of the current (2004-2008) extensive entry for Barney in
DNB provides the date of his birth as 4th March 1753,
but without reference to the source of this information.
This nevertheless seems plausible, as the marriage of
his parents, Joseph Barney (Senior) and Eleanor Denham,
was recorded at Wolverhampton St Peter’s church on the
30th November 1751.
 Wood, Henry Trueman. A History of the
Royal Society of Arts. 1913. P.164
 Wolverhampton Local Archives,
 Wolverhampton Public Library and Art
Gallery Minutes Book 6. CMB/WOL/AGPL/5.
 Hughes, G Bernard. Wolverhampton
Decorated Trays. In: Staffordshire Life and County
Pictorial. 1950, Vol.3, No5.
www.invaluable.com. 2003, Lot 507.Last access
www.invaluable.com. 2003. Lot 508. Last access
R. J. Cleevely,
‘Barney, Joseph (1753–1829?)’, Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004;
online edn, Jan 2008.
Last access 5 April 2009.
 In Keith Jobst’s book ‘The Barneys.
1835-1865. Brisbane, 1997’she is called ‘nee
Chandler’. P.86 ea.
 Eric Robinson and Keith R. Thompson.
Matthew Boulton's Mechanical Paintings. The
Burlington Magazine, Vol. 112, No. 809, pp. 497-507.
 Joseph Barney ‘consented to work
by the day to retouch the boys’ pictures, at 10/6 a day.
If the painting business is to be carried on, and the
boys continue to paint, certainly the value of the
pictures will be enhanced more that the
of his wages.’ J Keir to MB. 2.12.1779.
 MS3782/12/65/43. Keir to MB.
 In 1970 at Birmingham Assay Office;
now Birmingham City Archives, MS3782/1/31/1-16.
 MS3782/1/30. B & F to Clarke & Green,
10.07.1781. Letter book 1777-1782. B&F to Baron de
Watteville de Nidan, 23.12.1780; The Mint Inventory
 According to published information, a
painting by Angelica Kauffman has been preserved at Browsholme Hall, Lancashire (http://www.browsholme.co.uk).
It is worth checking whether this is a mechanical
www.invaluable.com. Last access 16.03.2009.
 Barney’s trip to London may have been
related to his Golden Palette awarded by the Society of
Arts, but its timing also suspiciously coincides with
the wedding of Antonio Zucchi and Angelica Kauffman
which took place on the 14th July 1781, thus
he might have attended the event.
 MS3782/12/63/19. 31st
 MS3782/12/27. 8th
January 1782. Bill.
 MS3782/12/63/12. 17th
 MS3782/1/30. July 1781: ‘…Penelope
and Calypso… to be sent to his Lordship House in Great
George Street, Westminster.’
 MS3782/12/63/13. 1st May
1780: ‘The Calypso you ordered for Lord Macclesfield
was sent the 27th ultimo to care of Mr
 Badger Hall was demolished in 1952,
and its ceiling paintings were installed in the house of
Buscot Park, Berkshire. While their classical manner is
indeed in the manner of Angelica Kauffman, their
subjects differ from these which were mechanically
reproduced at Soho in the 1780s, and which were finished
by Joseph Barney. Also, there is no evidence of their
Wolverhampton Local Archives,
 MS3782/1/32/1-16. 15th May
 MS3782/1/32/1-16. 12th
 MS3782/1/32/1-16. May 1782.
 Hughes, G Bernard. Wolverhampton
Decorated Trays. In: Staffordshire Life and County
Pictorial. 1950, Vol.3, No6.
W D John and Jacqueline Simcox.
English Decorated Trays (1550-1850). The Ceramic Book
Company, Newport, England, 1964. P.116-117.
 Materials on donors. File ‘Sir
Edward Thompson’. Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Jones, Yvonne. ‘Georgian and Victorian
Japanned Wares of the Midlands. Catalogue of the
permanent collection and a temporary exhibition.’ 1982.
Last access 18.07.2009.
 The catalogue of Wolverhampton Local
Archives provides the information that it was painted by
John Barney, a Bilston artist employed at the J Sankey &
Co. The name John might be a writing error, but if so,
there is still a discrepancy between the supposed date
of the tray and dates of Joseph Barney’s life, and there
is no evidence of him being employed by J Sankey. If
the name of John Barney is correct, we do not know
whether he was a member of the family.
 MS3782/1/32/1-16. 12th
 Wolverhampton Local Archives,
 ‘Barney sent from Wolverhampton
large picture of General Wolfe…’Hodges to MB.
 WAG, LP311
 W D John and Jacqueline Simcox.
English Decorated Trays (1550-1850). The Ceramic Book
Company, Newport, England, 1964. P.120-121.
 Jones, Yvonne. Georgian and Victorian
Japanned Wares of the Midlands. Catalogue of the
permanent collection and a temporary exhibition. 1982.
P.74-75. In an informal discussion, Yvonne Jones agreed
with a possibility of this attribution.
 MS3782/12/45/200. 2nd
 Exeter Working Papers in British Book
Trade History. The London book trades 1775-1800: a
preliminary checklist of members. Names B.
Last access 6 April 2009.
Email from Dr A R Morton,
Archivist/Deputy Curator, Sandhurst Collection RMAS:
Cattermole F J. Records of the Royal Military Academy
1741-1892. Woolwich, 1892.
 Wolverhampton Chronicle. 10 July
1811; Graves, A. The British Institution, 1806-1867.
 Wolverhampton St Peter: Baptisms
1539-1812. Surname ‘Ba’.
 Pigot’s Directory, 1830.
Knoedler & Co. Biographical notes of
XVIII & XIX century mezzo-tinters not mentioned in our
two previous brochures.1905. P.27.
 In Wolverhampton sources, there is no
record of George Barney’s birth or baptism. Also, it
seems that the family lived in London at that time.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume
1, 1966, pp 60-61. Sutton R. George Barney (1792-1862),
First Colonial Engineer.// Engineering Conference 1984:
Conference Papers. Institution of Engineers, Australia.
 International Genealogical Index:
 International Genealogical Index:
 International Genealogical Index:
 No author. The Wolverhampton
Painter of the Black Country’s own ‘Passion of the
Christ’ – and his Illustrious Ancestors.’// The
Black Country Bugle. 25th March 2004.
 Cit. in: Jobst, Keith. The Barneys.
1835-1865. Brisbane, 1997. P.3.