Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thomas Jones Barker - The Bride of Death

Thomas Jones Barker came from a family of artists. Unlike the rest of his family, he did not stay in Bath but had a successful career working in London and Paris.

His picture of Queen Victoria presenting a Bible to an African prince is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London. This was painted for the daughter of King Louis Philippe of France. It is Barker’s most famous painting, and he won prizes and medals for it in France. The picture tells a sad story. It is inspired by a ballad about the death of a young woman on the day before her wedding. Many of the objects in the picture have been chosen for their symbolic meanings. The hourglass beside the bed shows the passing of time and the shortness of life. The violets in the woman’s hand mean sadness, and her white clothes and pearls emphasise her purity. The dog is representative of loyalty and fidelity.

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