Friday, May 14, 2010

The Thief and the "Rise to Power"

One of the treasures of Barbados which hangs over the alter at St Georges Parish church. It is the beautiful Resurrection painting Rise to Power by Benjamin West R.A. West was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait he painted. Franklin was also the godfather of West's second son, Benjamin.
In 1763, West moved to England, where he was commissioned by King George III to create portraits of members of the royal family. The king himself was twice painted by him. He painted his most famous, and possibly most influential painting, The Death of General Wolfe, in 1770

During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the Hon. Henry Frere of Lower Estate, President of the Legislative Council, commissioned the painting for St.George's Church. It was exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1786, labelled "Not For Sale". When it arrived in Barbados, the Hon. Henry Frere and the then Rector, the Rev. John Carter, had "fallen out", and as a result, this masterpiece was relegated to an outbuilding at Lower Estate Plantation, where it remained for more than 30 years.

The story goes that a thief, hiding in the outbuilding, was so unnerved by the accusing gaze of the centurion, that he poked his eye out. The damaged painting was eventually placed in the church in 1820. Sixty years later, an effort was made to have the damage repaired, but no artist would attempt to repaint the eye, which was covered instead with a "pirates patch".

Visit St.George's Church. Hanging above the alter one can see this American painter's masterpiece.

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

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