Celebrities, musicians, actors and artists of Georgian Bath come under a new spotlight when an exhibition dedicated to their incredible stories opens at the Victoria Art Gallery.
From the sleazy to the sophisticated ‘Entertainment in Bath’ looks at performers and events in the city since its Georgian heyday through to its Victorian past and more recently Bath Festival and infamous pop concerts.
In the 18th century, Bath was second only to London for the remarkable quality and variety of music, art and theatre on offer. Performers would come to the city to entertain the wealthy spa visitors. Here they would develop their skills, and attract a following and a good reputation before moving on to further fame and fortune in London.
Wonderful portraits by Gainsborough, Bath’s best painter at the time, and works by the Georgian comic artist Thomas Rowlandson will feature in the exhibition.
Highlights from the gallery’s own collection of paintings, drawings and prints will be on show alongside important loans from the Royal Collection, lent by Her Majesty The Queen, and the National Portrait Gallery.
The exhibition, which runs from January 13 to March 14, will touch upon some of the less obvious ‘entertainments’ in the city, covering the full spectrum of morality, from gambling and prostitution to attendance at fashionable chapels.
The quirkier exhibits will include gambling paraphernalia and instruments similar to those played by musicians such as William Herschel, who lived and worked in Bath.
Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield) Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “Entertainment in Bath will give a fascinating insight into the city’s social history, while showcasing highlights from the Victoria Art Gallery’s outstanding collection.
“Some of the creative stars depicted in the exhibition are still well-known today, while others have been largely forgotten. However they are all intrinsically linked to Bath’s history as a centre for entertainment and creativity, and all have interesting stories to tell.”
Entertainment in Bath will be brought to life by special performances by Bath Spa University drama students on Saturday 24 February and 3, 17, 24 March at 12pm-2pm.
The show will also be accompanied by a free audioguide. Admission to the exhibition is free for local residents with a Discovery Card (www.bathnes.gov.uk/discoverycard).
Notes to Editors
Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen. Income generated from admissions and from associated commercial activities contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes. Royal Collection Trust’s work is undertaken without public funding of any kind.
The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 15 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.
At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions. Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts.
Explore the Royal Collection at www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection