All the World’s a Stage

Court, Patrons & Writers in Shakespeare’s Circle

Marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, this exhibition, the Barber’s first ever exploring Elizabethan and Jacobean art, focuses on the Bard’s chief patrons at court, and on other leading writers – rivals and associates.

Organised in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, London, it features major paintings, sculpture, miniatures and prints from the period 1590 – 1620, including outstanding portraits of Anne of Denmark, the Earls of Essex and Derby, Ben Jonson, John Fletcher and others, as well  as iconic images of Shakespeare himself. A rare first Folio and other richly ornamented books of the time have also been lent by the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library. Co-curated by the Masters’ students from the University’s Department of History of Art, Curating and Visual Studies, the show explores how artists construct character through portraiture, while delving into the lively world of the court during a golden age of British cultural history.

Here’s what our visitors said about the exhibition…

“Very illuminating.”- Margaret and Frank, Lancashire

“Another gem.”- Saul, Birmingham

“Delightful tribute to William Shakespeare.”- Valerie, London

“Fascinating portraits.”- Mashad, Doha, Qatar

“Inspiring, to say the least.”- Rebecca, Walsall

“I am truly moved. Thank you for helping to bring out the humanity in a legend.”- David, Idaho, USA

10 June – 25 September

Lady Barber Gallery

Related events


Shakespeare and His Circle

Monday 20 June, 1 – 6pm

Free, Booking essential:, 0121 414 2261

For more information click here




Did My Hero Look Like That?

Portraits of Tudor and Jacobean Playwrights and Poets

Wednesday 6 July, 1.10 ‒ 2pm

Tarnya Cooper, Curatorial Director, National Portrait Gallery




Shakespeare’s Circle

Tuesdays, 1.10pm

Free, no booking required


Scene 1 ‒ Writers

14 June

Robert Wenley, Deputy Director & MA Students

Scene 2 ‒ Court and Patrons

21 June

MA students




Reinventing the Bard

Saturday 17 September, 1.30 ‒ 4pm

For more information click here




Paint your Own Miniature

Saturdays 11,18 & 25 June, 11am ‒ 4pm

For more information click here


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