?, c. 1626–London, buried 11 August 1704 in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster
English painter, etcher, draughtsman and stationer
Francis Barlow specialized in paintings of animals and hunting scenes. He was the first artist to depict games and sporting matches.1 Where he was born is not clear: Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire are all mentioned as possible, as well as London. In 1650 he completed his apprenticeship with the London Painter-Stainers Company; for some years he may have been a pupil of the portrait painter William Sheppard (c. 1602–60).2 In 1658 he also became officially a member of the Stationers’ Company. He published a model book of birds, Multae et diversae avium species, c. 1650–55, with 12, and later 15, prints, which he etched himself. A second series of 13, later 18, prints of birds, Diversae avium species, c. 1654–8, was etched after drawings by Barlow by Wenzel Hollar (1607–77) and Richard Gaywood (fl. 1644–68). Barlow published Aesop’s Fables with his own illustrations (1666 and later editions). He also produced numerous sets of playing cards, and was one of the first political satirists.
His move from portrait painting to animal painting has been attributed to influence from or in the Netherlands.3 In any case he must have looked carefully at pictures with birds by Gijsbert Gillisz. de Hondecoeter (1603/4–53), at still lifes by Pieter Boel (1622–74), at drawings by Jacob de Gheyn II (1565–1629) and Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617), and at model books by artists including Jacques Callot (1592–1635), Hollar, and Abraham Bloemaert (1566–1651).4 Between 1667 and 1681 he made a series of large pictures with birds and other animals for Pyrford Court, near Ripley, Surrey; the diarist John Evelyn (1620–1706) after a visit in August 1681 recorded that the hall was ‘adorned with paintings of fowle, & hunting &c: the work of Mr. Barlow who is excellent in this kind from the life’.5 The house was pulled down in 1776; the paintings had been brought to Clandon Park, Surrey, where in 1764 they were seen by Horace Walpole.6 Barlow also contributed some decorative scenes with birds at Ham House, where one of the two overdoor paintings still in situ is dated 1673.
Croft-Murray & Hulton 1960, i, pp. 96–7; Hodnett 1978; Talley 1983, p. 164; Mitchell 1985, pp. 105–6; Waterhouse 1988, p. 18 and colour frontispiece; Frank 1993 (with several errors); Jeffree 1996; Dethloff 1996a, p. 141; Griffiths 1998, pp. 140–41; Flis 2011; Flis & Hunter 2011; Grove Art Online (March 1, 2016); RKDartists&, no. 4511: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/4511 (Nov. 20, 2019).
attributed to Francis Barlow
Hen and Her Chicks, c. 1650-1680
canvas, oil paint 62,5 x 79 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG425
DPG425 – attributed to Francis Barlow
A Hen and her Chicks
c. 1650–c. 1680; canvas, 62.5 x 79 cm
Cartwright Bequest, 1686 (no. 75, £7, ‘A henne & 5 chikins on 3 quarters clouth in a gilt frame’).
Sparkes & Carver 1890, p. 46, no. 121 (no name or country is mentioned); Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 119, no. 425; Cook 1914, p. 240, no. 425 (Artist unknown); Cook 1926, p. 223, no. 425; Cat. 1953, p. 48; Murray 1980a, p. 302 (Unknown); Beresford 1998, p. 308 (possibly British); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 24 (attributed to Francis Barlow); RKD, no. 270132: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/270132 (Nov. 6, 2019).
London 1987–8, pp. 23, 78–9, no. 74 (N. Kalinsky; Artist unknown).
The canvas has an old lining. The varnish has yellowed, but the appearance is acceptable. Some discoloured restoration can be seen in the background. Previous recorded treatment: 1952–5, Dr Hell.
1a) Francis Barlow, Partridges, graphite and watercolour on paper, 96 x 131 mm. Tate Britain, London, T08094 (in the Patrick Allan Fraser Album) .7
1b) Francis Barlow after 1a, Patriges [sic], no. 3 of Multae et diversae avium species, c. 1650–55, etching and engraving, 89 x 127 mm. Tate Britain, London, T11540 and T11572 (in the Patrick Allan Fraser Album) .8
2) Francis Barlow, A Pelican feeding her Young, pen in black ink and grey wash, 149 x 172 mm. BM, London, 1858,0626.408 .9
3) Francis Barlow, The Decoy, c. 1667–77, canvas, 254 x 345.5 cm. Clandon Park, The Onslow Collection (National Trust), 1441517 (destroyed in the 2015 fire) .10
Nicola Kalinsky suggested Francis Barlow as the artist, but she considered that there was no real evidence for the attribution.11 However a drawing by Barlow, Partridges, a study for a print published in the 1650s under the ‘Latin’ title Patriges, is in style and scale certainly by the same hand as DPG425 (Related works, nos 1a-b) [1-2]; and in another drawing by Barlow, A Pelican feeding her Young, the young are similar to the chicks in DPG425 (Related works, no. 2) .
Barlow worked on large projects as well: three canvases, each c. 2.5 x 3.5 m, painted between 1667 and 1681, originally at Pyrford Court, Surrey, and later at Clandon Park, Surrey, include birds by the same hand as DPG425 425 (Related works, no. 3) . Yet significantly John Ingamells chose not to include DPG425 in his 2008 catalogue of British pictures at Dulwich, presumably considering it the work of a Dutch artist – hence its inclusion in this catalogue.12
Partridges, c. 1650-1655
paper, graphite, watercolor 96 x 131 mm
London, Tate Britain, inv./cat.nr. T08094
after Francis Barlow
Partridges, c. 1650-1655
paper, etching and engraving 89 x 127 mm
London, Tate Britain, inv./cat.nr. T11540
A pelican in her piety; feeding young, c. 1650-1655
paper, pen in black ink, grey wash 149 x 172 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./cat.nr. 1858,0626.408
The Decoy, c. 1667-1677
canvas, oil paint 254 x 345,4 cm
United Kingdom, The National Trust, inv./cat.nr. 1441517
1 His print, The Last Horse Race run before Charles II, of 1687, is the first single-sheet print of horse-racing: Griffiths 1998, p. 248. In the form of a book illustration it was preceded by Horse Racing in Richard Blome, Gentleman’s Recreation, by A. Soly after ?Jan Wijck, of 1686, see Deuchar 1988, p. 14 (fig. 9), 37–8; also ibid., p. 173, note 46.
2 As mentioned by Bainbrigg Buckeridge (1754, p. 357; first published in 1706) and George Vertue in his Notebooks between 1721 and 1731: see Esdaile, Fox-Strangeways & Hake 1930–55, ii (1932), pp. ix, 135. According to Frank 1993, Barlow’s training with Sheppard is supposed to have continued until 1652/53. No record of this apprenticeship has been found: Flis 2011, p. 480.
3 Frank 1993 says Barlow stayed with a small group of artists at Ham in the Netherlands (she probably meant Ham-en-Artois in Flanders, now northern France, near Calais), but that is based on a misinterpretation of the phrase ‘The only English painter in the little colony at Ham was Francis Barlow’ in Whinney & Millar 1957, p. 277: they meant Ham House near Richmond. Neve 1971 suggested that, due to a lack of artistic opportunities at home, Barlow may have travelled to The Hague with his friend the painter-engraver William Faithorne I (c. 1620–91), who according to Neve was ‘in the Hague from 1645 to 1650’. There is however no proof that Barlow ever left the British Isles (Flis 2011, p. 483). Moreover, the royalist Faithorne seems to have been in Paris during the years 1645–51. No traces of William Faithorne or Francis Barlow in the Netherlands have been found by Marten Jan Bok, Nadine Akkerman or Jaap van der Veen; many thanks to them for emails 2016 and 2020 (DPG425 file).
4 Croft-Murray & Hulton 1960, p. 97; Stainton & White 1987, p. 141 (in both publications Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1636–91) is mentioned, but that should have been Gijsbert Gillisz. d’Hondecoeter, Melchior’s father and teacher, who also painted pictures with poultry); Flis 2011, pp. 482 (Boel), 488 (De Gheyn, Goltzius and Bloemaert), 491 (Callot and Hollar).
5 De Beer 1955, iv, p. 255 (Kalendarium; 24 Aug. 1681); from this quote it seems that Barlow had finished his pictures by that date.
6 For the effects of the fire at Clandon Park on 29 April 2015, see note 10.
7 RKDimages 270193 (Nov. 6, 2019); https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/barlow-partridges-t08094 (Nov. 6, 2019), where comparable prints and drawings by Barlow can also be found; Flis 2011, pp. 491–3, 529 (note 58), fig. 24 (A Covey of Partridges).
8 RKDimages 272658 (Nov. 6, 2019); Flis 2011, pp. 492, 529 (note 59), fig. 25. See https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/barlow-patriges-t11540 (Nov. 6, 2019). There are also several copies of this print in the BM, London.
9 RKDimages 270186 (Nov. 6. 2019); see also https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1858-0626-408 (June 28, 2020); Croft-Murray & Hulton 1960, p. 99, no. 4; also Flis 2011, pp. 508–9, 530 (note 93), fig. 53.
10 RKDimages 273442 (Nov. 6, 2019); see also www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1441517 (Nov. 6, 2019); Flis & Hunter 2011, pp. 9–10 (late 1670s). The following works on canvas, variously dated, are also at Clandon Park (some were rescued and some were destroyed in the fire of 29 April 2015; with many thanks to Sophie Chessum, John Chu and Rebecca Hellen, all three National Trust, emails, 14 Jan. 2021; DPG425 file): The Farmyard, before 1681, 254 x 345.5 cm (http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1441516; saved), and Landscape with Birds and Fishes, signed and dated F. Barlow 1667, 254 x 345.5 cm (http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1441518; destroyed). For all three paintings see also Flis & Hunter 2011, pp. 7–12, who argue that the first and last probably had a political meaning. For the other paintings, Ostrich and Cassowary (before 1676, each 254 x 122 cm; http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1441454 and http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1441455; both saved ), see ibid., p. 16 (for a comparable Ostrich and Cassowary at Longleat House, see Longleat 2002), and Hounds and Hare (early 1660s, 89 x 355.5 cm), ibid., pp. 20–21.
11 Kalinsky & Waterfield 1987, pp. 78–9.
12 Barlow’s subject matter was certainly influenced by Dutch painting. See also notes 3 and 4 above.