The Studio of Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)

Saint Marina (Margaret) Seville, possibly the 1630s Oil on canvas 160 x 107 cm Saint Marina, also known as Margaret, was martyred at the beginning of the fourth century.  Marina is traditionally depicted with the dragon, the devil in disguise, which she killed. This is a much simpler representation, in her role as shepherdess, with … Read more

Emanuel de Witte (about 1617-1691/2)

The Interior of the Old Church, Amsterdam Amsterdam, probably the 1680s Oil on canvas 83.5 x 66.5 cm De Witte painted over forty views of the Old Church in Amsterdam, including others taken from this viewpoint by the side entrance at the west end.  With the sun shining from behind, a man casts a prominent … Read more

Richard Wilson (1712/13-1782)

The River Dee near Eaton Hall London, probably exhibited 1760 Oil on canvas 54 x 88.6 cm This view of the River Dee in Cheshire looks upstream to the south-west and the distant hills of Wales. It was painted for Sir Richard Grosvenor, the owner of the nearby Eaton estate.  The Welsh artist Wilson had … Read more

James McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903)

Symphony in White, No.III London, about 1865-7 Oil on canvas 51.4 x 76.9 cm Whistler inscribed a musical title on this canvas to describe a painting of two young women dressed in white. The artist chose the term ‘Symphony’ to emphasise to visitors to the Royal Academy’s exhibition in 1867 that it was purely a … Read more

Edouard Vuillard (1868 – 1940)

Madame Vuillard Arranging Her Hair Paris, 1900 Oil on cardboard 49.5 x 35.5 cm We witness a private domestic scene: the artist’s mother is posed in front of a mirror in the Parisian apartment where they lived. The snapshot effect here suggests that Vuillard based this painting on one of the numerous family photographs that … Read more

Hendrick Cornelisz. van der Vliet (1611/2-1675)

A Grotto in an Imaginary Landscape Delft, Holland, 1643 Oil on wood 54.7 x 90.2 cm Vliet specialised in painting church interiors and this is his only known landscape, though such scenes were popular with his Dutch contemporaries. The grotto is a curious hybrid, partly natural and partly man-made with elements carved from the rocks.  … Read more

Paolo Caliari, called Veronese (1528 – 1588)

The Visitation Venice, about 1577 Oil on canvas 277.5 x 156 cm The Virgin, in the centre, greets her elderly cousin Elizabeth with news of the impending birth of Christ.  After a long barren life, Elizabeth is also miraculously pregnant, with John the Baptist.  Veronese locates the meeting in front of a palace.  The observers … Read more

Circle of Anthonis Mor van Dashorst (about 1516/19 – 1575/76)

Portrait of an Unknown Ecclesiastic Probably Antwerp, 1540s Oil on wood 66.3 x 51 cm The sitter in this fine portrait is identified as a member of the senior clergy by his costume: the rochet with narrow pleats and fur almuce on his left arm indicate he may have been a prelate or bishop. The … Read more


New Electroacoustic Music inspired by Art Three of the Barber Institute’s best-loved paintings – as you’ve never heard them before! In this exciting sound installation, a collaboration with the University’s Department of Music, three postgraduate composers were commissioned to create new short electroacoustic pieces, inspired by works in the Barber collection. They chose three very different pictures … Read more

Attributed to the Master of the Judgment of Paris

Daphne Pursued by Apollo The Metamorphosis of Daphne Florence, about 1450 Tempera on wood 47.4 x 53.1 cm The scenes illustrate a story from Metamorphoses written by the Roman poet Ovid.  The poem describes a series of magical transformations.  In the left panel, the god Apollo pursues the nymph Daphne who has rejected his love … Read more

Unknown Italian Artist

The Madonna and Child Enthroned (centre); Saint John the Baptist, with the Angel of the Annunciation (left); Saint Mary Magdalene, with the Madonna Annunciate (right) Tempera on wood Venice or Rimini, late 14th century 27.2 x 40 cm The Virgin Mary, enthroned with the infant Christ, appears against a finely decorated gold ground. They are … Read more

Unknown Italian Artist

The Crucifixion Probably Tuscany, the end of the 13th century Tempera on wood 56.5 x 32.5 cm The Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist mourn at the foot of the cross.  Their anguish directs attention to the humanity of Christ and his suffering.  Such small scale devotional paintings sought to deepen and inspire faith, … Read more

Unknown Italian Artist, after Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1530)

The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist Florence, the early 16th century Oil on wood 55.3 x 39 cm This is a copy of a fresco which Andrea del Sarto painted for an outdoor tabernacle near one of the medieval gates of Florence. The fresco was painted in 1520 and was … Read more


Portraiture Highly original and arresting angles on the theme of portraiture feature in this display of work by emerging photographic talent from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University. In the fourth of an annual selective award collaboration, students were challenged to produce their own responses to the theme that has been central … Read more


Early Acquisitions of Drawings for the Barber Collection The first works acquired for the Barber in July 1936 were drawings, their subtlety appealing to the Barber’s First Director, Thomas Bodkin, who wrote: ‘Drawings evoke rather than compel emotion; they whisper rather than call to the spectator’. Those early purchases comprised important examples by Fra Bartolommeo, … Read more

Ugolino de Nerio (worked from 1317, died 1339 or 1349)

Saint Francis of Assisi Siena, probably the 1320s Tempera on wood 88.2 x 32.2 cm Saint Francis (1182 – 1226) wears the brown habit of the religious order he founded in the early 13th century. The triple-knotted girdle hanging from his waist symbolises the poverty, obedience and chastity demanded of his followers.  The saint displays his stigmata, … Read more

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)

The Sun Setting Through Vapour London, about 1809 Oil on canvas 69.2 x 101.6 cm The sun disperses the clouds and infuses sand and sea with a golden glow.  Fishermen unload their catch which is then displayed on the beach for sale. Behind, a number of ships including a first-rate man-of-war and a dismasted hulk … Read more

Jean-François de Troy (1679-1752)

Jason Taming the Bulls of Aeetes Rome, about 1742 Oil on canvas 55.3 x 128.9 cm Jason, in the centre, miraculously tames two fire-breathing bulls in his quest for the Golden Fleece.  He is watched in amazement to the left by Aeetes, the King of Colchis, and by his daughter Medea.  She was Jason’s lover … Read more

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901)

A Woman Seated in a Garden Paris, about 1890 Essence on cardboard 49.4 x 31.3 cm Toulouse-Lautrec painted many studies of women posed in a garden setting in the years around 1890.  The studies were made in a public park close to his studio in Montmartre and they included friends and paid models. The unknown woman … Read more

Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto (1518 – 1594)

A Portrait of a Young Man Venice, 1554 Oil on canvas 121 x 93.3 cm The inscription records that this portrait was painted ‘in the year 1554 in the month of May [or March], in the 22nd year of his age’.  Unfortunately, the identity of the young man has been lost.  However, the three-quarter-length format, … Read more

Tiberio of Assisi (about 1470-1524)

Saint Francis of Assisi Bastia, near Assisi, early 16th century Fresco, transferred to canvas in the 19th century 153 x 70 cm Saint Francis (about 1181-1226) is shown in the habit of the religious order he formed, the Friars Minor.  He displays the stigmata, the scars corresponding to the five wounds of the crucified Christ.  … Read more

Tiberio of Assisi (about 1470 – 1524)

Saint Ansanus Bastia, near Assisi, the early 16th century Fresco, trasferred to canvas in the 19th century 153 x 70 cm Ansanus (died 303) was a Sienese nobleman martyred by the Emperor Diocletian for converting to Christianity.  He was the city’s earliest patron saint.  He is shown holding his trachea, lungs, heart and liver, possibly … Read more


20th-Century Portrait Drawings From formal commissions to intimate sketches of friends and lovers, Defining Faces focuses on portraiture in a century that witnessed radical changes in artistic style. The exhibition – the second in a prestigious collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, London – examines the function of, and the variety of approaches to the … Read more