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In the 1700s, Bath was second only to London for the quality and variety of music, art and theatre on offer. Musicians, artists and actors would come to the city to entertain the wealthy spa visitors who needed diversions when they weren’t busy with treatments. Here they would develop their skills and attract a following and a good reputation before moving on to further fame and fortune in London.
Entertainment in Bath features works from the Victoria Art Gallery’s collection, as well as loans from the National Portrait Gallery and Royal Collection Trust. They depict the creative stars of regency Bath and the venues where they performed.
Highlights include portraits by Gainsborough, Bath’s society painter in the 1700s and works by Georgian comic artist, Thomas Rowlandson. Gambling paraphernalia and instruments similar to those played by musicians such as William Herschel also feature in the exhibition.
Alongside high culture the exhibition also touches on some of the often forgotten ‘entertainments’, from gambling and prostitution to, at the other end of the spectrum, fashionable chapels and learned societies. The exhibition will also explore modern day entertainment in the city, such as the Bath Festival. Admission includes a free audioguide.
Entertainment in Bath will be brought to life by special performances by Bath Spa University drama students on the following Saturdays: 10, 17 and 24 February and 3 March. All 12pm–2pm.