The Serenity of the Night
Oil on canvas
75 1/2 x 87 1/2 inches
Barry wrote a treatise on art, Painting, in which he described his own working method:
First he would sketch out the design with charcoal directly onto the canvas; then he would cover the surface with a thin layer of neutral paint; only then would he begin to apply colour. Colour was the guiding force in Barry's work: "Colour is the heart and soul, the joy and the glory of painting; without fine colour no picture can be truly great, but with fine colour a multitude of other sins can be forgiven". Though he narrowed his palette to seven, five, and sometimes only three colours, Barry created shadow by using complementary colours. He preferred his colours pure and unmixed, applied directly from the tube. To make secondary colours such as orange, he advised: "don't paint orange, but get the orange by spots of red and spots of yellow which mix in the eye when seen at the proper distance". Barry's approach to colour was essentially Divisionist. Based on the theories of the French Pointillists Seurat and Signac, Divisionism aimed to maximise luminosity by using clear, unmixed colours and by separating colours from the surrounding light, shadow and reflections.
(Quoted in Moon Behind Clouds: An Introduction to the life and work of Sir Claude Francis Barry, Katie Campbell, Fine Art Promotions, 1990, p. 26).