Story and photos by Richard Hooper
Middleburg artist Anthony Barham grew up in England surrounded by art and antiques. His father owned an antique shop on famed Portobello Road in London and another in Plymouth. Barham traveled with his father throughout England on buying trips, along the way developing his eye for art.
The Portobello Road shop, built in 1863, originally housed The Portobello Dairy. It was three stories tall — space that was needed as Barham’s father would often purchase rooms of paintings at a time.
It was there that Barham began to paint by restoring his father’s purchases. He also learned gilding and frame restoration, crafts he still practices today.
Barham moved to America in 1994 and studied art for seven years at the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia. To visit the studio that merges with that of his wife’s, Misia Broadhead, one is surrounded by the paintings of two prolific artists: still lifes, landscapes, portraits, figure studies, allegories and an abundance of foxes, pigs, birds, cats and dogs.
The paintings are small to large. They hang from the walls, line the shelves and lean in layers against the furniture and wall vacancies where nothing else is hung. Known as Broadhead Barham Studio, it is an enthralling environment that never ceases to amaze and delight.
Barham has painted commissions for Senator John Warner and Paul Mellon and a significant portion of his current work involves commissions for paintings of dogs and other pets. Barham’s process is to get to know the pet first, beginning by shooting videos and listening to the owner’s comments about its personality.
In the studio, he can stop on any frame of the video to study details, but the painting is never just a rendering of a still photograph. Barham’s canine portraits are in all sizes, from life-size down to those of about 5 inches. With the small formats, he prefers to do five or six paintings of the dog to show various aspects of its personality.
A selection of Barham’s paintings can be seen at Middleburg Antique Emporium and they are also available at The Inn at Little Washington.
Barham has made numerous time-lapse videos of his paintings while they are being created. If you search for Anthony Barham on YouTube you will be directed to a number of selections showing him bringing a painting to life. It is a compressed view of the creative process, wonderfully produced and you will no doubt watch more than one.
Barham recently acquired an impressive collection of over 300 ornate, gilt, antique frames. Needless to say, it can be a bit tricky to find an already made frame to fit an already painted painting. It is, however, an opportunity to select an existing frame and have a commissioned work painted to fit.
For more information about Anthony Barham and Broadhead Barham Studio visit his website broadheadbarham.com. ML