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A Special Pleader

Charles Burton Barber

The painting was prolifically reproduced in the 1980s and adorned the walls of many homes nation wide during this era. For many, seeing this familiar painting brings back great memories.  

This work was painted in 1893 at a time when sentimental images of dogs, cats and other pets were fashionable due to the influence of Queen Victoria and the Royal family.

Barber was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite painters, and was commissioned by her to paint several works featuring her pets and grandchildren.

Interestingly everything required for this painting was either bought or made – the wallpaper was selected and pasted on a panel, and the furniture was purchased specifically and added to the painting.

The fashion for sentimental images of animals and children disappeared with the coming of the twentieth century. As an artist, Barber passed into more or less complete obscurity and paintings of this style were considered worthless by the art world.

It was only in the 1980s that Victorian narrative art saw a tremendous revival, both in terms of popular interest and commercial value. In the early 1980′s A Special Pleader was reproduced as a colour print and quickly became the most popular selling print of 1983/84.