STANDING FOUR-SQUARE AT THE far end of Great Pulteney Street, and easily visible from the shops on Pulteney Bridge, is a handsome building (above) that dates from 1796. It is set in the green surrounds of Sydney Pleasure Gardens, and was built originally as a social gathering spot for the smart set of Regency-period Bath. Today it’s open to all as the home of the Holburne Museum of Art.

Entry to the permanent collection is free (the Holburne calls itself, ‘Bath’s museum for everyone’) though there are various special exhibitions for which charges may apply.

A definite winner for anyone interested in the history of art was the 2013 show, 'Rembrandt and his Contemporaries: Paintings from the Royal Collection.' Rembrandt's pictures on show included the old woman (below) known as ‘The Artist’s Mother’ which he painted c1627-9.

In the words of the Holburne, "This ravishing exhibition, featuring paintings generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, explores the ways in which Dutch and Flemish artists of the 17th century revolutionised painting, looking at the world in new ways and developing new subjects and genres.

The show included, "...masterpieces by the greatest artists of the period including Rembrandt, Rubens, and Ruisdael."

For The English Eye, a standout in the show was Gerrit Dou's ravishing oil painting (below) of a girl chopping onions, painted in 1646.

I was completing a morning software training session at Bath’s Apple Store, so I made the Holburne next port of call the same day.

The latest show is well worth a visit too. The Holborn describes it like this: "...Silver: Light and Shade' explores the unique properties of an extraordinary material. Best appreciated when handled and used, silver is lustrous and alive. The colour and patina of silver are affected by the techniques used to work it and the way it has been cared for."

Detail (below) from a silver cup made by Charles Frederick Kandler, 1736/7. Shown courtesy The Holborn Museum/Tony Gilbert Photography.

The Holborne's intro goes on, "...Silver can be turned black or matt white, it goes red under heat; it can be combined with base and other precious metals, enamel or precious stones. 'Silver: Light and Shade' will tell a new story about silver, celebrating its visual impact, how it is worked, and what it means."

The silver tray (below) was made in 1877/8. Shown courtesy The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.

These pictures show older works, but there are new ones too. That suits me, as I like the fusion of old and new in most things, including silver.

Visit the Holburne Museum of Art here.

Rembrandt pictures courtesy: Royal Collection Trust/© 2013, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Others courtesy the Holborn Museum, Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Tony Gilbert Photography, The English Eye/David Jefferis.


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