Allegorical Figures
George Barse, 1890

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George Barse painting
George Barse painting frame detail George Barse signature George Barse painting
George Randolph Barse, Jr. (1861-1938)
Allegorical Figures
American: 1890
Signed "Barse Jr." and dated [18]90 lower right
Inscribed in Italian by Rosa Barse
Watercolor on board
15 1/4 x 20 3/4 inches, painting
20 1/2 x 25 inches, framed
Provenance: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

Two youths in Greco-Roman dress walk with a garlanded lion through a sunny landscape. One holds a thyrsus -- a staff tipped with a pine cone and decorative twine) -- associated with Dionysus. The figures are probably intended as an allegory, perhaps of peace, the harvest, or of the power of nature. Barse frequently painted allegorical subjects and contributed eight paintings of symbolic figures representing different genres of literature and poetry to the East Corridor of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress in Washington.

From the inscription on this painting, it apparently belonged to Barse's wife, Rosa, and was given by her to a friend or relative as a gift.

George Randolph Barse was born in Detroit and spent six years beginning in 1879 studying in Paris, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the Académie Julien and the ateliers of Jules Lefebvre, Boulanger and A. Cabanel.  He won the Academy Prize in Paris in 1882, the New England Prize at Boston in 1885, the first prize of the National Academy of Design, 1895; the Shaw Fund prize of the Society of American Artists in 1898 and the medal of Buffalo Exposition in 1901.  In 1898, Barse was elected to associate membership in the National Academy of Design and became a full academician two years later.  Around this time he also joined the Society of American Artists.  His other memberships included the Century Club of New York and the Salmagundi Club.  He also spent time in Italy, where in 1891 he married Rosina Ferrara (c.1861-1934), also known as Rosa, a beautiful woman and popular model from Capri who had been the subject of numerous paintings by Frank Hyde and John Singer Sargent among others.  They settled on an estate in Katonah, New York, and regularly returned to Capri for visits, where Barse would paint.  Around 1897, Barse contributed eight allegorical paintings representing different branches of literature to the elaborately decorated walls of the east corridor of the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building Library of Congress; they remain there today.   He also was known for his Liberty Bond posters to raise funds for the war effort during World War I.  His works are also in the collections of the National Museum of American Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, and other museums.  He continued exhibiting until 1936.  Two years later he died, an apparent suicide.

In 1900, Barse was elected to membership in the National Academy of Design. His works are also in the collection of the National Museum of American Art.

Inscribed in Italian: "da Rosa a Mabel con i meglione auguri" [from Rosa to Mabel with best wishes].


"Displaying Artworks for George Randolph Barse, Jr." The Athenaeum. 2000-2004., with detail of Vanity at (13 March 2006).

"Exhibition History of the Art Institute, 1905-1909." Art Institute of Chicago. 4 August 2005. (13 March 2006).

Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1985. p. 36.

"George R. Barse, Artist, Ends Life." Originally published New York Times, 26 February 1938, p. 30. Online at JSS Virtual Gallery. 15 October 2004. (13 March 2006).

"On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress." Library of Congress, Jefferson Building. 11 January 2006. (13 March 2006).

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