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October – November 2018

Gainsborough and the Theatre
Oct 5 – Jan 20 all-day
Gainsborough and the Theatre

By bringing together some of Thomas Gainsborough’s finest portraits of his friends in the theatre, this exhibition will create a conversation between the leading actors, managers, musicians, playwrights, designers, dancers and critics of the 1760s-80s.  Gainsborough & the Theatre explores themes of celebrity, naturalism, performance and friendship through some of the most touching likenesses by ‘the most faithful disciple of Nature that ever painted’.

Bringing together some of Gainsborough’s finest portraits of leading actors, managers, musicians, playwrights, designers, dancers and critics of the 1760s-80s, this exhibition will explore themes of celebrity, naturalism, performance and friendship.

Gainsborough and the Theatre will include 37 objects, including 15 oil portraits by Gainsborough, works on paper (including satires, views of theatres and playbills) and ephemera from public and private collections across the UK.

Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, theatre became an increasingly popular pastime, with existing playhouses enlarged and others newly commissioned throughout London and the provinces – particularly in Bath, where the Holburne Museum is located. In 1759, 32-year old Gainsborough arrived in Bath, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Having already garnered a reputation as a skilled portraitist, he soon found a keen clientele among Bath’s fashionable (and well-off) visitors.

Gainsborough’s arrival in the West Country coincided with the rising wealth and social status of leading actors, such as James Quin and David Garrick, both of whom he painted. His friendship with the pair opened more doors for him, both in Bath and then later in London. The two actors also enabled Gainsborough to explore naturalism in portraiture, just as they and their contemporaries were turning to less artificial forms of performance in theatre, music and dance.

A Shakespeare Masterclass with Mark McGann
An engaging lunchtime talk with Susan Sloman
Portrait drawing with Saied Dai
A Very Georgian Soiree

There’s an admission charge to visit the Holburne’s collection, displays and exhibitions on the first and second floor galleries.
£12.50 / £7 (includes donation)

Principal Exhibition Sponsor
Bath Spa University

Supported by:
Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel

Supported by a Publications Grant from the
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Paint Partner
Farrow and Ball

A Very Georgian Soirée
Nov 24 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
A  Very Georgian Soirée @ The Holburne Museum

For one night only, immerse yourself in the colourful world of the Sydney Hotel, the Holburne’s original manifestation in the late 1700s* and experience an eclectic mix of live music, dance and card games in our galleries. Sample gin cocktails in our ‘Pleasure Garden’ Café, pose for a portrait by our satirical illustrator, and dabble in the occult with our mystical fortune-teller.

*The Sydney Hotel was built in 1794 as a gateway to the 18th-century pleasure gardens (the Sydney Gardens) where Bath ladies and gentlemen promenaded, danced and enjoyed breakfasts, fireworks and evening galas. The Hotel offered daytime and evening dining, dance and gambling and issued all visitors with a silver token upon arrival.

This night of Georgian jollity will raise vital funds for the Museum – so come along and bring your friends!
Optional dress code: Georgian-inspired glamour. Think: beauty spots, pastels and powdered wigs; Lady Georgianna, Beau Brummell and Marie Antoinette…

Artist’s Studio: Have your portrait sketched, Georgian-style, by talented illustrator Sam Church
‘Pleasure Garden’ Café: Savour gin cocktails amidst the twinkling lights of our relaxing café
Dance and Music Hall: Get your boogie on Georgian style with Bath Minuet Group and Matthew Spring and his Georgian band
Card Games in the Ballroom: Get a taste for competitive Georgian card games in the same gallery where Bath high society historically gambled the night away…
Opera on the Mezzanine: Courtesy of Bath Spa University’s graduate singers
Fates foretold with Mystic Fortune-teller: Discover our secret fortune-teller in the hidden corners of the Museum…

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy
Nov 28 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy  @ The Holburne Museum

Holburne Director Chris Stephens, co-curator of last year’s record-breaking Hockney retrospective at Tate, will discuss the visiting masterpiece Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by Hockney in relation to the rest of the artist’s career and to its position in the history of portraiture.