Painted Pomp: Art and Fashion in the Age of Shakespeare at Bath's Holburne Museum

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 February 2013

Exhibition preview: Painted Pomp: Art and Fashion in the Age of Shakespeare, Holburne Museum, Bath, until May 6 2013

An image of a full-length painting of a woman in a regal dress from 400 years ago
Elizabeth Carey© English Heritage
Thomas Howard, the first Earl of Suffolk, may have commissioned the full-length portraits, painted by William Larkin between 1613 and 1618, as lavish symbols of a marriage between the powerful Jacobean Cecil and Howard families. Yet they are trumped by another element of the show.

An image of a full-length painting of a woman in a regal dress from 400 years ago
Diana Cecil© English Heritage
Replicating the “breathtaking” costumes worn by the sitters, a set of rare surviving dresses from the period have been given live interpretation. The aim is to scale the heights of art and fashion from 400 years ago.

The most extraordinary, apparently, include shoe laces threaded through the ear of the 4th Earl of Dorset, as well as a revealing décolletage liable to startle viewers courtesy of Lady Isabel Rich, all daubed in exquisite details down to the pale skin and blue veins of their wearers.

Seventeeth century clothing and accessories accompany the works. A ravishing embroidered bodice, rare fans, punto in aria lace – “stitches in the air” – and gloves embroidered in silk, trimmed with expensive gold and silver, cut a dash.

An image of a full length painting of a chap in a black and yellow suit against red curtains
Third Earl© English Heritage
Shakespeare’s Globe have loaned two replica outfits. Made for Mark and Juliet Rylance by historic dress designer Jenny Tiramini, they join costumes tailor-made for the exhibition which visitors can try on for themselves. Live music, playing overhead, should persuade the shy to slip on their newfound lacy garments.

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-5pm Sunday / Bank Holidays). Admission £6.95 (concessions). Follow the museum on Twitter @holburne.
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