Claude Francis Barry (1883 - 1970)

Monte Cassino, circa 1944

SKU: 596

Oil on canvas, 25 x 31 in. (63.5 x 80 cm.)


Height – 63.5cm x Width – 80cm


the artist’s estate; cat.463

Provenance: the artist’s estate; cat.463
Literature: Katie Campbell, Moon Behind Clouds: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Sir Claude Francis Barry, Jersey 1999, repr. p.74

‘The last fifty years are the most terrible of which history has any record and many of those, myself included, who have lived through them have often wished that they had never been born’ (Claude Francis Barry, quoted in Katie Campbell, Moon Behind Clouds, Jersey 1999, p.74).

Barry spent most of the inter-war years etching and painting on the Continent. He had a particular fondness for Italy and it was only with reluctance that, at the start of the war, he abandoned his studio in Milan and moved back to England to return to St Ives.

Both a pacifist and an enthusiast for Italy, it is not surprising that he responded strongly to the Italian Campaign, producing a series of poignant paintings and etchings, especially around the subject of Monte Cassino.Though a victory for the Allies, the Battle of Monte Cassino, which took place between January and May 1944, resulted in appalling lossses: 54,000 Allied casualties and 20,000 Germans. It also resulted in terrible damage to the town of Monte Cassino and the total destruction of the historic monastery. Barry himself suffered a devastating loss during the closing weeks of the Italian campaign: an American bomb exploded in Milan, destroying his studio with all of his etching plates.

Barry was interested in astronomy, and his pictures frequently evolve around scenes of moonlight and starlight. Monte Cassino shows the Plough (Ursa Major) rising above the crosses, with Venus appearing to the left.At first sight a poignantly bleak composition, Monte Cassino, like most of his war pictures, strikes a note of optimism: Venus (symbolising love) is ascending.

We are grateful to Robert Mitchell for his assistance.

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Claude Francis Barry
Claude Francis
1883 - 1970

Much of Barry’s early life has been pieced together from letters found
his briefcase after his death. Also in the briefcase ‘ along with a
full passport and his battered old eye-shade ‘ was an unpublished
on painting. This is the source of his quoted pronouncements
on life and

1883 Claude Francis Barry born in England to British parents
1885 His
mother dies when he is two years old
1897 Goes to Harrow, leaves after
two years due to a nervous breakdown
1899 Travels to Italy with a doctor
– a drawing and painting tour
1900 Returns to England where Sir Alfred
East R.A tutors Barry
1906 First paintings accepted at Royal Academy.
Joins Royal Society of
British Artists
Exhibits at Royal Society of
Scottish Artists
Exhibits at Salon Des Artistes Francais
1909 Has a
daughter, Kathleen; 1910 Son Rupert is born; 1915 Second
daughter Sheila is
1915 R.A submissions show shift from narrative to
1916 Tutored by Frank Brangwyn. Barry begins
1917 Exhibits etchings with Royal Society of Scottish
1922 Leaves family in England and travels in France and Italy to

concentrate on etching
Exhibits at Paris Salon throughout 1920s and
Awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for his etchings in France
and Italy
Queen Mary, Neville Chamberlain and Mussolini are patrons of
Barry’s work
1927 Marries second wife Violet Gwendolyn
1939 Returns to St. Ives after storing
his etching plates in Milan
1940 Joins St. Ives Arts Club and befriends
Hepworth and Nicholson
Works in Alfred East’s old studio on Porthmeor
Returns to oil painting
1943 Paints wartime “blitz
paintings” in pointillist technique
1944 A US bomb explodes in Milan
destroying all his etching plates
1945 Holds last exhibition in St.
Ives and moves to Jersey
1946 Inherits title- third baronet of St.
Leonard’s Hill, Berkshire and
Keiss Castle, Caithnessshire
Second wife dies of cancer
1960s Barry moves in with friend Tom Skinner
and his family in Jersey
1968 Stops working and moves into a nursing home
in Kent
1970 Dies and leaves his remaining works to Tom Skinner

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