It’s no good – the temptation to use the expression ‘roaring success’ to describe the Holburne Museum’s new summer/autumn exhibition is too great a one to resist.
The fact there’s a lion on the banners outside gives a clue to the pun but also indicates that there are more than a few surprises to what is on show inside.
The exhibition revolves around the works of George Stubbs – an 18th-century artist we tend to know and love for his life-like depictions of magnificent horses and their supporting cast of dogs and humans.
As it turns out – that’s not the way Georgian art lovers saw him. He ‘entertained’ his gallery audiences with his depictions of wild animals – in paint and print.
The horses were just private commissions for rich landowners with thoroughbreds in their stables.
George was fascinated by animals – not just how they looked but how they were built – and he studied their anatomy tirelessly. His interest came at a time when many exotic new creatures were arriving in Britain from our expanding colonies overseas.
Polite society flocked to see these beasts from the wild. A genteel society with hearts aflutter as they faced a world where Nature was both savage and untamed.
The exhibition – which opens this weekend – includes some of the most charming and fascinating of the animal portraits, grand fantasies and exquisite prints and drawings.
It’s also offering free audio guides to help guide you through the gallery exhibits and featuring responses to Stubb’s work by animal experts and artists.
Stubbs and the Wild is curated by Amina Wright – who is Senior Curator at the Holburne Museum.
Just before a private viewing of the exhibition, I asked her why she had chosen Stubbs for the summer show.
The Holburne Museum is pleased to present Stubbs and the Wild, an exhibition of animal portraits, grand fantasies, and exquisite prints and drawings by renowned British wildlife painter George Stubbs (1724-1806), on show from 25 June to 2 October 2016.
Lowell Libson Ltd
The exhibition is supported by The Friends of the Holburne and Bath Spa University.
Admission to the exhibition
£10 (£8.50 without donation | £9 (£7.50 without donation)