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Maurice Mervyn Barrett [1912-1998]



[From the catalogue-in-progress for “Landscapes & Livestock”, a loan exhibition for Agincourt Homecoming in the Fall of 2015]

BARRETT, Maurice Mervyn (Bob) [1912-1998]

Canal Lock


oil on cardboard / 7 inches by 5.6 inches

Barrett’s work is represented in the Victoria Gallery, Bath, by a single piece: a similar abstraction of England’s 19th century canals and locks, titled “Canal at Widcombe, Bath, Autumn.” But other than his birth date in the county of Somerset, there is little available biographical information.

Like its sibling at Bath’s Royal Victoria Gallery, the subject here seems also to be Britain’s picturesque 18th and 19th century waterways, the infrastructure that gave birth to the industrial revolution. Those same technologies were common to early industrialization in the U.S.—even here in Agincourt, where the mill pond behind the Muskrat dam produced limited and, unfortunately, unpredictable amounts of water power for the Syndicate Mill—but steam railways quickly replaced them as the motive power of Capitalism. The idea of canals moved westward across the Appalachians with migration and remnants of those transplanted systems can still be seen in Illinois. Iowa had only a few, however, and those were outdated even before their completion.

A source for the Barrett painting is not known at present.

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