Julian Barrow (1939 – 2013)
Julian Barrow (1939 – 2013)
Julian Barrow was an established British painter much admired for his landscapes, architectural paintings, street scenes and views of towns and cities he visited on his extensive travels. As versatile as he was prolific, his each and every painterly reaction to his subject illustrates a very particular joy reaped from his many journeys across Britain, Italy, the Middle East, India and America.
After completing a classical training in Florence, Barrow began his career painting architectural portraits of a considerable number of notable estates across Britain. These early oil paintings soon gained him a loyal following among the commissioning elite who valued his work for its distinctive and quintessentially English charm. Barrow had a natural propensity to distil those particular idiosyncrasies of a place. Whether the satanic silhouette of the Scottish Highlands, the agrarian charm of a Gloucestershire farmstead or the titanic feat of engineering implicit in Brooklyn Bridge, he always managed to harness the true spirit of each with the deft touch of his brush. As Auberon Waugh once aptly wrote, Barrow ‘has a peculiar genius for capturing the Englishness of a building, its social and architectural essence’.
This retrospective showcases work spanning the life of a loved and respected artist deeply affected by his environment. Each work imparts its unique sense of uplifting nostalgia – his innate intrigue in the world around him is undeniably infectious.
John Julius Norwich described how his paintings ‘warm us; they cheer us; they convince us that whatever terrible things happen in the world, there is beauty aplenty for the asking – and for the taking’.
Julian Gurney Barrow was born at Kirklinton, Cumberland, on August 28 1939, the second of five sons of a solicitor and a painter. As a child Barrow was an avid drawer, discovering the joys of art at Harrow School where he won the Henry Yates Thompson Art Prize. He enrolled at the Royal West of England Art College in Bristol for a brief period before moving to London in 1958 to sell his work on Victoria Embankment. After joining the picture restorers, William Drown & Sons, he later joined the restoration department at the National Gallery.
In 1959 he worked on restoration projects at Ambrose Congreve’s collection in Ireland but left for Florence in 1960 to enrol as a student of the artist Pietro Annigoni and spent the next few years between Florence and London.
In 1961 Barrow rented his first studio in Tite Street and took on various royal commissions. In 1965 he travelled through Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to Jerusalem, completing various portraits financed by an impromptu selling exhibition, and by 1966 he found his way to New York and his first one-man show.
By the 1970s Barrow had established a name for himself for his work; well known as ‘a country house painter par excellence’ he took on hundreds of commissions to paint estates, interiors and conversation pieces for wealthy families from New Jersey to Venice, India to London. He completed commissions for important British establishments, among them the House of Lords and the London clubs, the Garrick, Whites and Beefsteak.
During his long and industrious career Barrow had several successful one-man shows. He has exhibited with the Royal Academy some twenty times and regularly showed in exhibitions in London, New York and the Middle East. He was President of the Chelsea Art Society for about twenty five years.