This jewel in Bath's crown was once the Georgian Sydney Hotel, whose glittering society Jane Austen watched from her house opposite. It displays the treasures collected by Sir William Holburne: superb English and continental silver, porcelain, maiolica, glass and Renaissance bronzes.
The Picture Gallery contains works by Turner, Guardi, Stubbs and others plus portraits of Bath society by Thomas Gainsborough.
We are open free of charge every day. Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday and Bank Holidays 11am to 5pm. Closed 24 to 26 December and 1 January.
Permanent collection free of charge.
Charge for temporary exhibitions.
A Handful of Dust
- 13 February — 18 September 2016 *on now
As part of our ‘100 Years Here’ celebrations, the Holburne will be exhibiting some of its rarely-shown but exquisitely beautiful eighteenth-century British portraits in pastel. This mixture of china clay, plaster and pigment is little more than coloured dust, yet when applied to paper the effect can be magical.
- Family friendly
The Holburne Museum
Great Pulteney Street
The Museum is fully accessible and we offer spaces within our pay & display car park for Blue Badge holders
Stubbs and the Wild
- 25 June — 2 October 2016 *on now
Today George Stubbs (1724-1806) is known and loved for his anatomically accurate and sensitively realistic portraits of magnificent horses and their supporting cast of dogs and humans. In his own time, the artist’s public image was largely based on his depictions of wild animals in paint and print.
Throughout his life he was fascinated by how animals are built, not just by their outward appearance, and he studied their anatomy tirelessly. It was this interest that led him beyond horses to other animals, at a time when many exotic new mammals were arriving in London from Britain’s expanding colonies. Moose, zebras, yaks and even the remains of a kangaroo were brought home as valuable curiosities and their owners encouraged Stubbs to study the animals and record them for posterity. Although many of them were intended primarily as zoological studies, Stubbs’s paintings of wild creatures are also portraits that capture the behaviour and character of living beings.
As a subject painter, Stubbs’s most successful essays in the sublime also explore the wild, not as a source of curiosity but as a distant, untamed land where nature is merciless and well-fed predators rule. His images of a horse attacked and then devoured by a lion, with variations in different media and reproductions in print became Stubbs’s signature work.
This exhibition will include some of the most charming and fascinating of the animal portraits, grand fantasies, and exquisite prints and drawings. It is part of a series of special events to celebrate 100 years since the re-establishment of the Holburne Museum in Sydney Gardens.
- Family friendly
Linda Brothwell: The Missing
- 6 August 2016 — 2 January 2017
In a new commission On the Table, this pioneer of contemporary British craft skills will create a playground of textures and colours in stone, wood and metalwork in response to the most intricate works in the Holburne Museum’s collection. In a dramatic exploration of materials, Brothwell’s work will be displayed alongside the elaborate carved wooden, gilt bronze and hardstone plinths on which Sir William Holburne displayed his porcelain and bronzes.
Many of Holburne’s plinths were separated from their objects in the 20th century, leaving an alluring and eclectic collection of empty mounts. Brothwell will create the missing parts: wearable pieces in silver and quartz displayed on larger sculptures of boldly coloured marble, ebony and gold, forming playful vignettes of rare and precious materials.
John Hunter: Dr Jekyll or Dr Dolittle?
- 7 July 2016 7-8pm
Revered and feared in equal measure, John Hunter (1728-93) was the most famous surgeon in 18th-century London as well as the most notorious customer of the body-snatchers. A maverick medical pioneer and inspiring teacher, he was also a tireless naturalist who kept exotic animals, experimented on living creatures and created a unique anatomical collection of almost 14,000 specimens, covering 500 different species. A friend and patron of George Stubbs, Hunter would ultimately advance views on the origin of species which anticipated Charles Darwin.
Wendy Moore is an author and freelance journalist. Her first book, The Knife Man, a biography of the 18th-century surgeon John Hunter, was published in 2005 and won several awards. She has since written two more non-fiction books on 18th-century history and is currently writing a book about mesmerism in Victorian Britain.
There will be a book signing after the event.
Café and Stubbs and the Wild exhibition open from 6 to 7pm
£10 (£14 including one exhibition admission to Stubbs and the Wild redeemable until 2 October.)
Songs from Bohemia, Bavaria and Vienna
- 12 July 2016 1:10-1:50pm
This choir of men’s voices often performs in partnership with a horn quartet, but on this occasion is accompanied by the Holburne’s historic Steinway Grand.
The programme includes From a Bouquet of Slavonic Folksongs by Dvorak, Beethoven’s moving Prisoners’ chorus from Fidelio and a wonderfully romantic song for midsummer, Johannisnacht by Rheinberger.
Niall Hoskin is the baritone soloist with Ben Jarvis and Steven Hollas (piano), conducted by Mike Daniels. www.menwithhorns.org
George Stubbs and the Menageries
- 13 July 2016 3-4pm
Caroline Grigson, author of the recently published and highly acclaimed Menagerie, the History of Exotic Animals in England will recount the stories of the various animals imported from overseas, both privately owned and in commercial menageries, which George Stubbs drew and painted – how they came to be in England, the interest they excited, and what happened to them in subsequent years. Caroline is a zoologist; after retiring as curator in the Museums of the Royal College of Surgeons she was appointed an honorary professor at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. There will be a book signing after this event.
- 16 July 2016 10:30am-4pm
To celebrate the Stubbs and the Wild exhibition, join artist Sally Muir, and her dog Lily, for a day of discovering how to capture mood and movement when drawing from the live animal. Charcoal and pencils will be provided and paper will be available at cost price. Please bring a sketchbook and any specialist materials you might like to use and come for a day of exciting and unpredictable animal drawing.
Stubbs and the Wild Study Afternoon
- 29 July 2016 1-4:30pm
Amina Wright, Senior Curator at the Holburne Museum
An introduction to the artist and his animals by Amina Wright, curator of the exhibition.
Gaye Blake-Roberts, Curator at the Wedgwood Museum
Wedgwood & Stubbs
In 1775, George Stubbs contacted Josiah Wedgewood to see if he could produce large ceramic tablets on which to paint animals. Over the next few years a fruitful working relationship grew up between these two extraordinary innovators and indefatigable experimenters. Gaye Blake-Roberts, a leading expert on Wedgewood, explores his unique alliance between Potter and Painter.
Tim Clayton, Author
George Stubbs and the Print
George Stubbs was acutely conscious of the importance of prints in communicating his ideas, as the permanent record of his painted images and as the vehicle for his international reputation. Tim Clayton describes why Stubbs taught himself printmaking and traces his subsequent fascination with the medium. He is the author of George Stubbs: the Complete Engraved Works and The English Print 1688-1802
Needle Felting Lions
- 10 September 2016 From 10:30am
With Jenny Barnett
Inspired by Stubbs’s paintings, learn how to needle felt and create your own wonderful lion or lioness sculpture. Using felting needles and wool fleece, repeatedly pushing the barbed needles into the wool, makes the fibres tangle together and create solid 3 dimensional forms. You will be able to model the wool into shapes, join them together and turn the wool fleece into your own charming sculpture.
Jenny Barnett makes, a needle felt maker and illustrator, specialises in needle felt sculpting, commissions, workshops and creative books. She is an experienced freelance sculptor working for the giftware industry including Coalport, Wedgwood, and Genesis Fine Arts.
Striving for the Divine
- 13 September 2016 Until 1:50pm
A selection of songs by Schubert and chamber music by Beethoven – early Romantic music with the profound longing for higher worlds. The Danish trio Strings of Joy will perform in accurate Regency costumes. The ensemble consists of soprano Maria Johannsen and her daughters, Anna and Giuly. They have performed together for six years, and their tours have taken them all over Denmark, to St. Petersburg in Russia, and several times to Bath and Oxford.
- 24 September 2016 7-9:30pm
John Law (Piano)
David Daniels (Visuals)
Patrick Dunn (Performance of visuals)
Prize-winning, internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer John Law, returns to his classical roots with a re-working of J.S.Bach’s famous masterpiece the Goldberg Variations. Bach’s complete score, with the addition of John Law’s newly composed, ambient opening and closing compositions, has been stylishly visualized, the film operated live to fit the live piano performance. The resulting experience is a deeply moving one that goes right to the essence of the music contained in this epic masterpiece.
John Law, a prize-wining classical piano prodigy, is known as one of Europe's was adventurous and challenging contemporary jazz pianist/composers, having played all over Europe and North America, appearing at over 50 festivals and major concerts halls, and made over 30 albums. Award-winning digital animator David Daniels has toured widely, as a live artist for musicians such as Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd
Stubbs and the Wilderness
- 30 September 2016 7-8pm
Stubbs was a dogmatic advocate of artists working directly from nature yet he had little or no direct experience of wild landscape. His landscape backgrounds were artificially derived from Old Masters and from what he saw as he travelled to Newmarket Heath and to his wealthy patrons’ estates of woods and landscaped grounds. He didn’t go to any of the wilder parts of Britain and his foreign travel was limited to a short stay in Rome, which he reached by sea. In this talk Robin Blake looks at how Stubbs devised the illusory settings for his wild animal pictures.
Robin Blake is an art writer and biographer of Anthony Van Dyck and George Stubbs. He has written on a wide variety of other subjects and is the author of the Cragg and Fidelis series of mystery novels set in 18th century Lancashire.
Café and Stubbs and the Wild exhibition open from 5pm – 9pm, as the lecture co-incides with the Holburne Up Late!
£10/£14 (£14 which includes one exhibition admission ticket)
- 30 September 2016 10am-4pm
This watercolour painting workshop will use art to pay homage to the transformation of larva to butterflies. Cath Hodsman and course participants will discuss how this mysterious process manifests itself, in butterflies and moths. Each fascinating stage of metamorphosis will be studied in all its beauty and wonder and then captured in a unique, intricate and beautiful watercolour painting. Each student will have access to their high-powered microscope. Please bring your own watercolour sets and fine brushes to this class, and a desktop easel if you have one – all other materials provided.
Great Pulteney Street