Berry was flag-captain to Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and commanded ships at Trafalgar and San Domingo.
This half-length portrait and the three-quarter length version in the Greenwich Hospital Collection (BHC2554) both present questions of attribution. This portrait, when acquired in 1953, was said to be by William Beechey but is not mentioned in Beechey’s account books. It has subsequently been attributed to Thomas Phillips.
BHC2554 has traditionally been described as being by John Singleton Copley (1737–1815) and is said been painted in 1815 (the year of Copley’s death at the age of 78). It was presented to Greenwich Hospital by Berry’s widow in 1835 when in a letter from Lady Berry to Edward Hawke Locker it is described as being by Copley. It is described as having been finished by Thomas Phillips in December 1839, probably on the basis of information in Phillips’s sitter’s books (National Portrait Gallery). A portrait of Berry by Copley is not mentioned by Jules Prown in his book on Copley, but the possibility may remain that a portrait begun by Copley in the first decade of the nineteenth century was substantially completed by Phillips with the 1812–1825 uniform, when this portrait may have been painted by Phillips.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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