Pontypool 1769 - Bath 1847

A Meeting on the edge of a wood; Countrymen talking to a mounted rider, surrounded by dogs. Also known as ‘The Squire’s Instructions’

Oil on canvas: 24 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. 61.5 x 74.25 cm.

Provenance: English private collection.

This scene is characteristic of Barker of Bath’s interest in rural scenes peopled by workers and squires, a theme he popularised throughout his career and which brought him much commercial success. It also reflects his study of Dutch 17th.century painting, combining the themes of landscape and genre in a happy fusion of romanticised social commentary. Many of these subjects were translated into engravings or even transferred onto china, such was their popularity. But Barker also travelled to Italy from 1790-93, sponsored by his patron Charles Spackman, where his study of Italian masters contributed to some outstanding scenes of bandits and locals dancing beside classical ruins. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1791 and 1829, and held a stand-alone show in 1797. It was the rural scenes that brought him the greatest acclaim, however, though his later work included a Trial of Queen Caroline of 1791, and an ambitious historical painting The Inroad of the Turks upon Schio of 1825.