The Prints and Drawings Study Room houses our fine collection of prints, drawings and watercolours, comprising more than 1,000 works and six centuries of the draughtsman’s and printmaker’s arts. There are outstanding drawings by Fra Bartolommeo, Rembrandt, Turner, Ingres, Degas and German Expressionists. The prints include exceptional works by Dürer, Goya, and Italian and Flemish … Read more

Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917)

The Age of Bronze Model: Brussels, Belgium, 1877; Cast: Paris, probably before 1917  Bronze 180.5 x 68.5 x 54.5 cm In its earliest form the man held a spear in his left hand. The figure was titled The Vanquished in reference to France’s painful defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1). Rodin changed the title to … Read more

René Magritte (1898-1967)

The Flavour of Tears Brussels, 1948 Oil on canvas 59.4 x 49.5 cm Surrealist paintings stir the imagination by subverting our expectations and transgressing boundaries. To this beguiling mixture Magritte adds a disturbing reality that we know from our dreams. Here, a totem-like bird assumes the form of a tobacco leaf. The birdleaf is consumed … Read more

SAMUEL PALMER (1805-1881)

The Rising Moon London, about 1855, published 1857 Etching on chine collé​ 269 x 366 mm A shepherd and his flock return home at evening in a scene also known as ‘An English Pastoral’. Palmer assembles different landscape elements, imagined and observed. The solitary figure, the sheep, and the moon are familiar from his earlier … Read more


A Nun Seated at a Table Paris, the 1910s Black chalk on paper 324 X 235 MM This drawing of an unknown nun is closely related to the series of portraits of Mère Poussepin Gwen John executed from 1913, one of which is shown in the Blue Gallery. The artist worked from a prayer card … Read more


Works of art on paper are perhaps the fastest area of growth for the collection and there are now over a thousand drawings and prints covering six centuries of the draughtsman’s and printmaker’s art.  There is a small but very fine selection of old master drawings with magnificent sheets by Dürer, Ingres, Rembrandt, Pietro da … Read more

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

The Harvest Wagon Bath, exhibited 1767 Oil on canvas 120.5 x 144.7 cm A group of rustic figures travel in a harvest wagon at the end of the working day. The figures are unusually prominent for Gainsborough’s landscapes and are the result of careful study. Two of the women are based on the artist’s daughters … Read more

Jan Gossaert (about 1478–1532)

Hercules and Deianira Possibly Antwerp, 1517 Oil on wood 36.8 x 26.6 cm The classical hero Hercules is shown embracing his wife Deianira. Their seat is decorated with images of his heroic exploits, including the defeat of the Nemean lion and his victory over Antaeus. Their erotic encounter, however, is doomed. Deianira sits on the … Read more

Evaristo Baschenis (1617-1677)

A Still Life with Musical Instruments Bergamo, North Italy, about 1660 Oil on canvas 95.5 x 129 cm A dramatically-lit group of objects demonstrates the artist’s mastery of illusion. Note the dust on the lute, to the right, and the sumptuous folds of the curtain above. The painting is an example of a Vanitas, a … Read more


Ludlow Castle, from the North West, with the River Teme London, about 1800 Pencil, watercolour, scratching out on paper 357 X 572 MM Turner visited Ludlow in the summer of 1798 when he made a number of studies of the ruined castle and its surrounds. The pencil drawing of this scene was partly finished in … Read more

ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)

The Bath House Nuremberg, about 1496 Woodcut 388 X 282 MM Dürer depicts an open-air bath house of a kind that was popular in northern Europe around 1500. Male figures are shown at different ages and in varied and complex poses, created by a network of crisp lines that curve and trace the surface of … Read more

Become a Patron of the Barber Association

Become a Patron We have three levels of Patronage – Benefactor, Director’s Circle and 1932 Club – each offering a range of enjoyable and stimulating benefits for those who are excited by art and music, and the opportunity to inspire the same passion in future generations. To join the Association, please complete and return the … Read more


The Barber Institute is located next to the East Gate of the University of Birmingham’s splendid campus. Official website for the University of Birmingham: History of Art, Curating and Visual Studies Department Official webpage for the University of Birmingham’s Department of History of Art, Curating and Visual Studies:


The Barber Fine Art Library is located on the ground floor of the Barber. The library is a specialist research-level collection of books, exhibition catalogues and sale catalogues on Western art covering most of the major European schools of painting from the early Renaissance to the 21st century, the history of collecting, and also some Byzantine art. The … Read more


The Barber Institute’s building is owned and maintained by the University of Birmingham. The collections at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts are acquired and owned by The Henry Barber Trust. The Trust contributes extensively towards the purchase of works of art, the collections’ care and conservation, and the museum’s capital and running costs, including its … Read more


The European Landscapes of Thomas Fearnley The fjords, forests, mountains, torrents and glaciers of Scandinavia and Switzerland, the lakes and picturesque country buildings of Cumbria, and the sun-drenched plains, hillsides, rocks and sea-shores of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean… Landscapes featuring a breathtaking range of Europe’s varied and beautiful scenery feature in this dazzling exhibition- … Read more


Our mission derives from the far-sighted vision of our founder, Lady Barber, who established the Barber Institute of Fine Arts ‘for the Study and encouragement of art and music’. The jewel in the cultural crown of the University of Birmingham, the Barber uses its world-class collections to create inspirational opportunities for learning and enjoyment for … Read more


The Barber Institute of Fine Arts owes its existence to the vision of Lady Martha Constance Hattie Barber (1869–1933) — pictured (right) in a portrait by James Jebusa Shannon [1912]. Lady Barber was the daughter of a wealthy Worcestershire businessman, Simon Onions, who, after an education at Cheltenham Ladies College married the Birmingham solicitor and … Read more


The life and passions of Lady Barber Who was Lady Martha Constance Hattie Barber? And what inspired her generous bequest to the University of Birmingham? Find out in this exhibition focusing on Lady Barber’s life, that of her husband, Sir Henry, their house at Culham Court and its remarkable gardens and collections. A significant part … Read more


The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is housed in one of Birmingham’s finest Art Deco buildings, purpose built and opened by Queen Mary in 1939. The Barber Institute was designed by Robert Atkinson (1883-1952), one of Britain’s leading architects of the 1920s and ’30s. When it opened The Times described the building as ‘the purest … Read more


Robert Atkinson and the Building of the Barber Institute The Barber Institute is widely regarded as an Art Deco masterpiece. This display explores its gradually evolving concept and actual construction up to its opening in 1939. The story of its architecture – from gradually evolving concept through construction, overseen by the Barber’s first Director, Thomas … Read more


JACQUELINE LAWRENCE Lady Barber’s personal lace collection is the starting point for mixed-media textile artist Jacqueline Lawrence’s series of sensitively observed works. For hundreds of years, lace has provided a decorative aspect to things of practical use. This function- as well as lace’s intricate detail and imaginative design- have fascinated Lawrence, who has also sought … Read more

How to find us

How to find us Booking is essential; please book your visit in advance of the day you plan to visit the Barber – book a free ticket here. The Barber is just three miles from the centre of Birmingham – we encourage our visitors to use public transport, walk, or cycle where possible. Cycle There … Read more