From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913
Was born in Dublin, about 1747, of French descent. He was a pupil of James Mannin in the Dublin Society's School and gained a premium in 1764. For some time he worked as an artist in Dublin and enjoyed a considerable reputation as a teacher. About 1770 he went to London and three years later, in 1773, he set up a drawing-academy in James's Street, Golden Square, and in 1777 had a similar academy at 24 St. Alban's Street, Pall Mall. As "James Barralet" he exhibited three tinted drawings, "A Storm," "Sunset" and "Ruins," in the Royal Academy in 1770, two of classical subjects and two views of Garrick's House at Hampton in 1771, and a whole-length drawing of a Gentleman, and two classical subjects in 1772; and as "John James Barralet," in 1773 "A Managed Horse," and in 1776 two subjects from Beaumont and Fletcher, and "A Woman Bathing." He was awarded a gold palette by the Society of Arts in 1774 for a "View of Brentford from Kew." Landscapes and small subject pieces by him were in the exhibitions of the Society of Artists from 1773 to 1780; he was elected a Fellow in 1777, and in the same year had six landscapes in chalk in the "Exhibition, or Grand Museum, of Arts and Sciences in the Great Room, Royal Exchange, Strand." Pasquin says that "he drew landscapes in Italian chalk in which he affected to imitate Vernet."
Barralet returned to Dublin in 1779 and was appointed as temporary master in the Dublin Society's school during the illness of James Mannin. On the latter's death the same year Barralet competed, unsuccessfully, for the vacant post. He remained in Dublin for some years, residing at 22 South Cumberland Street, and later at Ballsbridge, and was employed in making drawings for such important books as Grose's "Antiquities of Ireland," Milton's "Views," etc. He accompanied Gabriel Beranger (q.v.) in an antiquarian tour through Wicklow and Wexford in 1780, and exhibited four drawings that year at the Society of Artists in William Street. He painted some scenery for the Crow Street Theatre in 1782 and was also engaged with Richard Hand (q.v.) in glass-staining.
In 1795 he left Ireland and went to America, settling in Philadelphia where he found employment as a book illustrator. He exhibited drawings at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, including one of "The First Landing of Columbus," which was much praised. A bust portrait of Alexander Wilson, author of "American Ornithology," was drawn and engraved by him: Entered according to Act of Congress, Nov. 1814 by J. J. Barralet of the State of Penna. His name also appears on R. Field's engraving of Walter Robertson's portrait of Washington in 1795. He is said to have invented, or first introduced into America, a ruling machine for the use of engravers, and to have made improvements in the ink used for copper-plate printing. Barralet died in Philadelphia on 16 January, 1815. He was an eccentric man, irritable and passionate; a great snuff-taker, and dirty and untidy in his dress. He was lame from a dislocation of the head of the thigh-bone. In Philadelphia he lived, as a widower, with two children in part of a house without any servant. Amongst his works are:
The Fountain erected in Merrion Square in honour of the Duke of Rutland. Engraved in aquatint by J. C. Stadler. This print, seventeen-and-a-quarter by twenty-and-seven-eighth inches, shows the fountain as it was originally, with groups of women drawing and carrying away water. It is inscribed: Jno. Jas. Barralet, delt., J. C. Stadler, Sculpt. To her Grace Mary Isabella Dutchess of Rutland this Plate is most humbly inscribed by her devoted servant, J. Blaquiere. This fountain for the use of the 'Poor of the City of Dublin was Erected in honor of the Duke of Rutland the late & much lamented Lord Lieutenant of Ireland,—it stands in Merrion Square and extends 70 feet, in a recess in the centre is a Sea Goddess reclining on an Urn and discharging its water in a large Shell of rough Masonry, which is under it, from whence it flows over Rocks below, above this in high relief in a tablet is represented the Good Samaritan & the well-known Story of the Marquis of Granby presenting to a Wounded Soldier the water which had been brought for his own refreshment. In compartments on either side are Medallions of the noble Duke & the present beautiful Dutchess. On the right wing is represented Agripina weeping over the Ashes of Germanicus & on the left Ireland bewailing the loss of her guardian and protector. An English & Latin inscription are on each side, one reminding the Passenger of the Virtues and premature Death of the friend and protector of the Poor, who had he lived would have Erected this Fountain for their use at his own expence. And the other expressive of the feeling of those who carried the work into execution.
The Preservation of Sir Richard MacGwire who fell into the sea (by the descent of a Balloon) off the coast of Ireland on the 12th May, 1785. Mezzotint; J. J. Barralet ad vivum delint. W. Ward, Sculpt. Published, June 4, 1787, by Thomas Milton, No. 40 Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, and by J. James Barralet in Dublin.
An Italian Fountain. Engraved by Grignion and Picot, 1774.
James W. Dodd, as Clodio in Cibber's "Love makes a Man." Engraved by J. Collyer.
Samuel Foote, as Fondlewife in "The Old Bachelor." Engraved by W. Walker in "New English Theatre," 1776.
John Palmer and Miss Hopkins, as Bajazet and Selina. Engraved by W. Walker.
Samuel Reddish, as Beverley in "The Gamester." Engraved by J. M. Delattre in "New English Theatre," 1776.
Mrs. Pope, (Elizabeth Young), as Merope. Engraved by D. Reading for Lowndes's "New English Theatre," 1776.
The Beneficent Lady. Engraved by T. Morris and F. Bartolozzi.
Nymphs Bathing, (the figures by Cipriani). Engraved by V. M. Picot and Bartolozzi, 1773.
The Storm, (figures by Cipriani). Engraved by Picotand Bartolozzi, 1773.
Mary of Anjou. Engraved by V. M. Picot.
Death of William Rufus. Engraved by T. Chesham, 1777.
Death of Richard III. Engraved by T. Chesham, 1777.
Illustration for "Ossian." Engraved by J. Parker.
Two Vignettes. Engraved by W. Esdall in William Preston's "Poems," published in Dublin in 1793.
Drawings for the following plates in Grose's "Antiquities of Ireland": Baggotrath Castle; Clonmines Abbey; Duncannon Fort; Dunbrody Abbey, exterior; the same, interior; Enniscorthy Castle; Hook Tower; Fethard Castle; Hore Abbey; St. Mary's, Wexford; Slade Castle; Tintern Abbey; Holy Cross Abbey, two views; Thurles Castle; Castle of Knights Templars, Thurles; Hermitage at Slane; Franciscan Abbey, Cashel; Bargy Castle; Achmacart Castle; Ferns Castle; St. Mary's Church, Thurles.
Drawings for the following plates in Milton's "Views of Seats in Ireland": The Phoenix Lodge, 1783; Leinster House; Lucan House; The Dargle; Florence Court, 1786; Tullymore Park, 1787; Glenarm, 1793.
Landscape, with old Buildings. Water-colour; signed John James Barralet, Dublin. [British Museum.]
View on a River, probably the Dodder. Water-colour; signed as above. [British Museum.]
Ruins of Ringsend Bridge. Sepia; signed J. J. Barralet, Dublin, 1786. [British Museum.]
Truelove's Journal: A Bookshop Novella
"Beautiful, different and touching. Short, sweet and lovely. Made me cry. You sense that this is a true story veiled in the guise of fiction as are all the best stories."
Although ostensibly set in England, this story was penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St John Featherstonehaugh.
Join our mailing list to receive updates on new content on Library, our latest ebooks, and more.
You won't be inundated with emails! — we'll just keep you posted periodically — about once a monthish — on what's happening with the library.