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Antiques Considered - May 9, 2012

Over the past twelve and a half years that I have written this column, with one exception, all of the items have been about pieces of antique furniture or related subjects.  Today’s is going to be a second exception to that practice.

Word has come to the Northern Neck of the passing earlier this year of the artist Carroll Beale Barnes, Jr.  He was 81, and died in a nursing facility near Philadelphia, a city in which he had lived for the past 40 years.  He was born in Baltimore, the elder son of a father from Heathsville in Northumberland County and a mother, Alma Haydon, from Irvington in Lancaster County.

He attended Bucknell University, where he majored in Art, and spent one year of further study in Paris, whither he traveled on the R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth. When he was drafted in the U.S. Army, a basic training sergeant asked him what his nickname was, and he replied that he had none, to which the sergeant replied, “Everyone has a nickname and I can’t be calling you Carroll.  I’ll call you

“Bob.”  The name stuck, and most folks outside his family used it, but his relatives continued to call him Carroll Beale.

Bob delighted in all forms of art, but his own specialization was in painting, of which he was a true master.  He did portraits, bucolic landscapes, murals, trompe d’oeil, and faux marblelizing.  He had endless patience, and meticulously tended to every detail of his work.  Here in the Northern Neck where he made an annual pilgrimage to visit his many relatives, he worked on many projects in various homes.  In Philadelphia, at Andalusia, the historic Biddle family estate, he painted an entire room for Jimmy Biddle, the former President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In the realm of antiques, Bob concentrated on collecting and dealing in historical Staffordshire pottery, at one point owning over 3000 pieces, making his two-hundred-year-old townhouse appear as a major museum.

 Bob was a great artist who preserved many iconic Northern Neck scenes through his art, but most of all he was an even greater gentleman, one who represented the best of his ancestral homeland everywhere he went.  This Saturday his remains will be brought back to the Northern Neck to remain a part of the heritage he often richly interpreted over his illustrious career.

Happy Antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570.

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