Bernardo Strozzi (1581 – 1644)

The Head of an Old Woman Genoa, the 1620s Oil on canvas 48.3 x 38.8 cm This startling image is a study of old age made from a model, rather than being a commissioned portrait.  Such character studies were occasionally painted by artists as the basis for biblical or mythological subjects which included elderly people. … Read more

Attributed to José Campeche y Jordán (1751 – 1809)

Portrait of a Lady San Juan, Puerto Rico, about 1800-05 Oil on canvas  105 x 85 cm Acquired in 1940 as a portrait by the great Spanish artist Francisco Goya of his mother, this attribution has long been dismissed – along with the authenticity of two accompanying letters, also supposedly by Goya, that mention the … Read more

Matthias Stom (about 1600 – after 1652)

Isaac Blessing Jacob Sicily, about 1635 Oil on canvas 136.5 x 182 cm The old and blind Isaac summons his eldest son Esau to prepare his meal and receive a blessing. His wife Rebecca substitutes her favourite son Jacob who wears goat-skin gloves in order to resemble his hairy brother.  He steps forward gingerly whilst … Read more

Jan Steen (1625/6 – 1679)

The Wrath of Ahasuerus Leiden, Holland, about 1671-3 Oil on canvas 129 x 167 cm King Ahasuerus rises in fury as his wife Esther reveals the treachery of his chief minister Haman, who cringes to the left. According to Bible, Haman plotted to massacre the Jews in the Persian empire.  Queen Esther summoned the two … Read more

Francesco Solimena (1657 – 1747)

The Holy Trinity, with the Madonna and Saints Naples, about 1705 Oil on canvas 101 x 128 cm   This is a preliminary study for a large altarpiece, known as a modello. It was painted for a church of Franciscan nuns in Naples where Solimena worked throughout his life.  Saint Francis, and his follower Saint Clare, … Read more

George Grosz (1893-1959)

Querschnitt – Platin & Co. Germany, 1920 Lithograph 675 x 535 mm Overlapping scenes of wounded soldiers, prostitutes and bourgeois businessmen in a crowded and war torn metropolis were typical of Grosz’s work following the end of World War I. In 1914 and 1917 he was called up for service but was discharged within months … Read more

Claude Mellan (1598-1688)

The Face of Christ France, 1649 Engraving 476 x 361 mm The Face of Christ was made by Claude Mellan. It relates to the miracle of St. Veronica who, on the road to Calvary, wiped the perspiration off Jesus’s face and an image of his face was miraculously transferred on to the cloth.   This was … Read more

Indian, Deccani School

Portrait of Sultan Ali Adil Shah II India, 17th century Coloured ink on paper and fabric 389 x 237 mm Painted in Bijapur by an unknown master, this jewel-like miniature depicts Sultan Ali Adil Shah II, who reigned between 1656 and 1672.   Clad in a magnificent gold jama, which is decorated with emerald-green peacock ‘eyes’, … Read more

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Jacqueline in Profile, Turned to the Right France, 1958 Lithograph 65.5 x 50.5 cm Picasso met the young divorcée Jacqueline Rocque in 1954 and, eight years later, she became his second wife. This is one of a series of prints he made of her in the late 1950s, the majority of which depict her bust-length. … Read more

Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617)

The companions of Cadmus devoured by the dragon Haarlem, 1588 Engraving 253 X 318 MM Goltzius worked with the artist, Cornelius van Haarlem, at the ‘Academy’ of Harlem, who made the painting (now at the National Gallery London) from which this engraving derives.  Ripping claws, fangs gouging deep into flesh, scattered heads and shredded bodies … Read more


The great English architect and designer AWN Pugin passionately promoted the Gothic style.  He was inspired, among others, by Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), widely recognized as the greatest German Renaissance artist. As part of the Birmingham-wide celebration of the bicentenary of Pugin’s birth, this display will showcase the eight prints and single drawing by … Read more

Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674)

The Vision of Saint Juliana of Mont Cornillon Paris, about 1645/50 Oil on canvas 47.5 x 38.7 cm Saint Juliana (about 1191-1258) was a 16-year-old nun when she began to have visions whilst praying.  She interpreted the appearance of the moon, marked with a stain, as a rebuke to the Church for not having a … Read more


Treasures of Ancient Egypt The Myers Eton College Collection of Egyptian Antiquities is not only one of the most stunning assemblages of ancient Egyptian decorative art worldwide, but also a window into the distant world of travellers in 19th-century Egypt and the Middle East. Educated at Eton College and Sandhurst, Major William Joseph Myers (1858–1899) … Read more


Treasures from the Reserve Gallery When is a Rembrandt not a Rembrandt?  Why is one landscape hidden away in store while another graces the walls of the main gallery? The Barber collection of paintings number some 150 oils, and most are exhibited permanently.  However, a small number rarely see the light of day and are … Read more

Going Dutch

Golden Age Treasures from Holburne and Barber Collections The 17th-century ‘Golden Age’ of Dutch art is celebrated in this fascinating exhibition, which also compares the history and content of two university art collections — the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and the Holburne Museum of Art, Bath. Unusually, both collections were founded by women. After … Read more


Re-interpretation, Reconstruction and re-contextualisation In its second year; the Barber Institute’s photographic competition Function, held in collaboration with Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), part of Birmingham City University, showcased the best young, creative talent. Undergraduate students from BIAD’s degree in Visual Communication found inspiration in the paintings on display at the Barber to … Read more

Simone Martini (about 1284 – 1344)

Saint John the Evangelist Siena, 1320 Tempera on wood 41.7 x 30.3 cm This originally formed the right-hand panel of three – a triptych.  The others would have shown the dead Christ in the centre, with the grieving Virgin Mary to the left.  Saint John’s sorrow was a reaction to Christ’s crucifixion.  The panels could … Read more

Luca Signorelli (about 1441 – 1523)

A Portrait of Niccolò Vitelli Città di Castello, central Italy, about 1492-6 Oil on wood 44.2 x 33 cm Niccolò Vitelli (1414 – 1486) was a ruthless mercenary commander who established his family as rulers of Città di Castello.  This portrait was painted after his death.  It was probably commissioned by his sons as a … Read more

Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9-1682)

A Woodland Landscape Probably Amsterdam, the early 1660s Oil on canvas 61 x 84.5 cm The Dutch landscapist Jacob van Ruisdael painted many types of landscape, including numerous woodland scenes.  In this comparatively open example a drover pauses as his animals cross a river; beyond the bridge, a flock of sheep graze a meadow. In contrast … Read more

A Follower of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

The Head of a Young Woman Antwerp, perhaps 1640s Oil on wood 56.5 x 48.8 cm This painting was purchased as a study by Rubens of his second wife Helena Fourment.  However, research shows that both the title and the attribution are wrong.  The head was probably copied from the female figure in Frans Rubens … Read more

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

A Portrait of a Carmelite Prior Antwerp, about 1616 Oil on wood 79.5 x 65.5 cm A man dressed in the austere habit of the Carmelite order prays in front of a crucifix.  The order was dedicated to contemplative prayer.  The man’s identity is not known, but his rapt gaze and the sympathetic treatment of … Read more

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

Landscape in Flanders Mechelen, near Antwerp, about 1635-40 Oil on wood 89.8 x 133.8 cm This slightly elevated view shows the countryside around Het Steen, the castle that Rubens bought in 1635.  Here he painted landscapes for his own pleasure, away from the demands of wealthy and powerful patrons.  In this case, he painted over … Read more

Theodore Rousseau (1812 – 1867)

A Landscape in the Auvergne Auvergne, France, 1830 Oil on paper, laid on canvas 33 x 42.2 cm This landscape was painted directly from nature in the summer of 1830.  The young artist reacted against his narrow academic training by travelling to the mountainous Auvergne region.  Here Rousseau sought out rugged views, such as this … Read more

Cosimo Rosselli (1439 – 1507)

The Adoration of the Infant Christ Rome, about 1480 Tempera on wood 177.8 x 149.5 cm This is the main panel of an altarpiece.  A complex group of figures is gathered within a beautiful landscape.  Three saints surround the infant Christ: Jerome with his chest bared; Francis in the grey habit; and Benedict in the … Read more

George Romney (1734-1802)

A Portrait of John Smith London, 1782 Oil on canvas 127 x 101.6 cm John Smith (1703-1787) is shown seated against a window with a snuff box in his left hand.  He was a successful merchant who had some interest in the arts.  He would have been seventy-nine when he sat for this portrait, which … Read more

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Dressing for the masquerade London, 1790 Pencil, watercolour, pen and ink on paper 325 X 438 MM Four women dress for a masquerade; according to a paper held by the dishevelled figure to the right, it is to be held at the Pantheon in Oxford Street. She is disguised as a madwoman, a common guise … Read more

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)

Loyalty, Plate 17 from ‘The Proverbs’ Spain, about 1816 Etching with aquatint and drypoint 244 X 357 MM Goya’s final series of etchings, The Proverbs (Los Proverbios), also known as Disparetes or Absurdities, remain his most mysterious and enigmatic. Featuring a group of monks and friars, Loyalty appears to be concerned with the licentious behaviour … Read more

Schelte Adamsz Bolswert (c. 1586-1659), after Peter Paul Rubens

The Lion Hunt Flanders, late 1620s Engraving with etching 428 x 596 mm This violent and dramatic hunting scene, after a painting by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), shows horses, men and wild beasts masterfully entwined, the range of facial expressions and contorted poses portraying the fury and fierce determination of each. The central horse, legs outstretched, … Read more

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)

Woman with dead child Berlin, 1903 Etching 425 X 490 mm The stark, animal-like figure of a woman passionately embraces the corpse of a young boy. In 1914 this became reality for the artist when her younger son, the model for the dead boy, died in the early months of the First World War. The … Read more

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Crouching Woman Vienna, 1914 Drypoint 715 x 575 mm   In this harrowing image, a thin woman with wounds to her body and hairs standing on end, appears imprisoned. Schiele created psychologically disturbing and erotic images of the body. In 1912 he was imprisoned for disseminating indecent drawings but by the time of this print … Read more