2023 Exhibition Programme


Alberta Whittle: Dipping below a waxing moon, the dance claims us for release
27 January to 7 May 2023

Fresh from representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale, Alberta Whittle (b.1980) will present a suite of newly commissioned sculptures across the Holburne Museum’s site and grounds, as well as a series of new text-based works on billboards across Bath.

The exhibition, Whittle’s first in a public museum, will continue themes known in her practice including post-colonial healing, pleasure, and hospitality, each manifested through her prism of love, compassion, and kindness. Previous projects have looked to explore more recent historical events including the Windrush Scandal, and the challenges faced by healthcare workers during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. This, however, will be Whittle’s first commission to directly address 18th-century histories.

In Dipping below a waxing moon, the dance claims us for release Whittle will transform the Roper Gallery into a mis-en-scene where a group of figures are captured at various stages of a limbo. Whittle uses the Caribbean dance as a metaphor for the contortion Black bodies are forced to perform when participating in daily life in the West. She draws a comparison between the limbo and the promenade women would have made on Great Pulteney Street and through Sydney Gardens during the 18th century where, despite their apparent liberty, societal structures enforced a specific type of female behavior which was performed and exaggerated while on public view. A programme of Whittle’s moving image work will accompany her newly commissioned sculptures. Outside the Museum a group of new digital collages will occupy advertising hoardings in and around Bath, each exploring themes embedded in Whittle’s practice.

Illustrating the World: Woodcuts in the Age of Dürer
21 January to 23 April 2023

This is a rare opportunity to view the complete set of woodcuts known as The Great Passion, produced by the most famed artist of the German Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).

During the 15th-century the woodcut technique became highly practiced throughout Europe, mainly in the form of cheap and mass-produced decorative or devotional images, made in monastic workshops or by independent craftsmen, including playing-cards makers. With the spread of the movable-type press in the second half of the 15th-century, woodcuts became the preferred means of illustrating books. The vast variety of texts being printed required artists to create brand new iconographies.

The publication of the lavishly illustrated Nuremberg Chronicle in 1493 set a new standard for illustrated books both for its quality and production process. Publishers started hiring renowned artists to devise iconographic programs. Young Dürer was an apprentice at the Nuremberg workshop while this masterpiece was being produced, possibly contributing to it.

Just three years later, Dürer started working on his Great Passion cycle. He was the first artist in history to devise, create and publish an illustrated book, pushing the limits of a quintessentially linear art to create vividly animated scenes.  With its rise in status, the woodcut was soon recognized as a powerful tool to reach a wide public, and evolved into a medium used for civic promotion, political and religious propaganda, and the sharing of ideas and information.

Painted Love: Renaissance Marriage Portraits
26 May to 1 October 2023

This is a major exhibition looking at the role of portraiture in the process of marriage in the Renaissance of Northern and Southern Europe. The project was prompted by the long loan to the Holburne of a group of outstanding Northern Renaissance portraits from the Schroder collection.

Marriage portraits not only document the legal union of spouses, capturing that key moment, both intimate and personal as well as public and formal in the sitters’ lives, but can also celebrate the union of families, their wealth, power and land and the forging of political alliances. Prestigious loaned artworks will come from the National Gallery, British Museum, V&A and The Royal Collection, amongst others.

In addition to paintings, the exhibition will include objects associated with the rituals of marriage: love tokens, rings, gifts, and commemorative tableware, as well as written documents and love letters.

Lucie Rie: An Adventure in Pottery
14 July 2023 to 7 January 2024

Dame Lucie Rie (1902–1995) is one of the most celebrated potters of the 20th-century, and the exceptional quality of her work continues to inspire today. Despite its significance, her experiments with materials, technique, form, surfaces and colour, the Austrian born British artist’s work has been the subject of relatively few solo exhibitions in museums or galleries in the UK. For most visitors, the exhibition will be a first chance to experience Rie’s pioneering work in depth. As a female potter working independently, Rie constantly took her own path often at odds with prevailing trends.

The exhibition will be an opportunity to see a new selection of Rie’s ceramics from throughout her working life and to consider afresh the singular nature of her achievement. Rie is an important artist in the collections of both Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) and the exhibition will draw from their holdings.

Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Potteryis organised by Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and MIMA, Middlesbrough, in association with The Holburne Museum, Bath. Exhibition supported by the AKO Foundation.

Gwen John
27 October 2023 to 14 April 2024

This is the first major exhibition to place Gwen John (1876-1939) in relation to the art worlds of two cities in which she chose to live and work – London and Paris.

By looking beyond John’s work in isolation, or only in relation to her brother, Augustus, audiences will be able to enjoy and understand her art in conversation with her international contemporaries including Édouard Vuillard, Auguste Rodin, and poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Arthur Symons.

The exhibition will also present new research into John’s female contemporaries whose work was connected with hers, such as fellow women students at the Slade School of Fine Art – Ursula Tyrwhitt, Elinor Monsell, and Edna Clarke Hall – and artists at the New English Art Club in London, as well as artists working in Paris such as Paula Modersohn-Becker and Marie Laurencin.

Central to the exhibition is John’s personal development as an artist and her biography, and it is hoped that personal possessions such as her crucifix and carefully chosen archival material which belonged to the John family will support and enhance this exhibition.

Exhibition organised by Pallant House Gallery.


The Holburne Museum’s mission statement is ‘Changing Lives Through Art’, signalling its commitment to opening up the enjoyment of art to people of all ages and from every walk of life. The Holburne was founded in 1882 with the gift of Sir William Holburne’s collection of 16th– and 17th-century Italian and Dutch paintings, silver, sculpture, furniture, porcelain and diverse objets d’art of national and international significance. That founding gift has been augmented with a collection of 18th-century paintings by such artists as Gainsborough, Lawrence, Ramsay, Stubbs and Zoffany. Set within the historic Sydney Pleasure Gardens, the Museum reopened in May 2011 after ambitious renovations and with a new, award-winning extension by Eric Parry Architects. The Holburne has since secured a national reputation as an outstanding museum which holds critically acclaimed exhibitions. Its programme of exhibitions, commissions and events sets out to bring to Bath great art of all periods and from around the world, seeking to set the art of the past in dialogue with contemporary practice in exciting and dynamic new ways.