George Barret, Junior
Irish 18th Century Landscape Painter: Biography, Watercolours.


George Barret, Junior (1767-1842)

One of the most gifted members of the English School of landscape painting, George Barret junior was the son of the Irish artist George Barret Senior RA (1732-1784).


Born in Orchard Street, London, and absorbing both drawing and painting from his father during his teenage years, Barret was only seventeen when his father died. As a result, he and his siblings (Joseph, James and a sister) were left to support themselves. All four became artists, although George Junior was by far the most gifted. Sadly, despite his gifts, his life turned into one long struggle for financial survival.

Landscape with a Bridge

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Barret's early landscape painting in oils was executed in the same style as his father, but afterwards he became celebrated for his drawings in watercolour by which he made his reputation.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1800-1803, before becoming a foundation member of the Old Watercolour Society of Painters in 1804, where his watercolour painting was shown continuously for 38 years. He espoused the style of Romanticism, although whether this was by choice or at the instigation of his patrons, is unclear.

His earlier artworks were scenes of the Southern Counties of England, interspersed with an occasional Welsh landscape, but soon he turned to general "Claudian-type" compositions - so-called after the French painter Claude Lorrain (1600-82) who pioneered idyllic pastoral views - depicting romantic sunrises and sunsets.

One of the better Irish landscape artists of the 18th and 19th centuries, his watercolours - in the opinion of several art experts - remain unequalled in their representation of bright sunlight and other atmospheric effects.

He was also the author of The Theory and Practice of Watercolour Painting (1840). After a life of almost continuous work George Barret (Junior) died in 1842 at his house in Edgeware Road, London.

More Information About Visual Arts in Ireland

• For biographies of other early painters, see: 18th Century Irish Artists and 19th Century Irish Artists.
• For details of other creative practitioners from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Painters and Sculptors.
• For more about watercolour landscape artists like George Barret junior, see: Irish Art Guide.
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