Exhibitions Archive


Paths to Fame:
Turner Watercolours from The Courtauld

30 October 2008 – 25 January 2009

JMW Turner: Dawn after the Wreck (detail)

Organised in collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, this exhibition will be the first full display of The Courtauld Gallery’s outstanding collection of watercolours by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851).

The Courtauld’s collection includes works from across the artist’s career, ranging from an ambitious early view of Avon Gorge made when Turner was just sixteen years old to the monumental highly finished watercolours of his maturity and examples of the celebrated expressive late works. 

Throughout his life Turner orchestrated his career with fame in mind.  Intensely ambitious, he travelled the length and breadth of Britain and the Continent in search of inspirational and marketable views. Following in his footsteps, the exhibition traces the evolution of his extraordinarily inventive and entrepreneurial approach to the making of landscape in watercolour. 

The works on display will include eight rarely seen watercolours bequeathed to The Courtauld in 2007 by Dorothy Scharf. These and other works from The Courtauld collection will be supplemented by closely related loans from Tate and private collections.


The Triumph of Marriage: Florentine Renaissance Cassoni

12 February – 17 May 2009

Front panel of the  Nerli cassone

This exhibition explores one of the most important and historically neglected art forms of Renaissance Florence: pairs of great chests, lavishly decorated with precious metals and elaborate paintings. These items – now generally called cassoni – were often the most expensive of a whole suite of decorative objects commissioned to celebrate marriage alliances between powerful families.

Cassoni were used to store precious items such as clothes and textiles. The painted panels set into them told tales and history from ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine, as well as Florentine literature and more recent historic events. These beautifully told and highly crafted pictorial narratives had the power to entertain as well as to instruct the husband and wife, their servants, children and visitors.

This exhibition will explore the close craft relationship between painters, guilders, carvers and joiners in the Italian Renaissance workshops by looking at spectacular and extremely important cassoni.


Bloomsbury Designs:
The Omega Workshops (1913 – 1919)

18 June – 20 September 2009

Duncan Grant: Astract Design for a Rug

Founded by Roger Fry in 1913, The Omega Workshops produced ceramics, furniture, textiles and rugs. Among the protagonists of this collaborative were other members of the Bloomsbury Group, such as Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

This exhibition will focus on a moment of creative experimentation between artists who worked together under the umbrella of the ‘Omega Workshops’ (1913-1919), designing textiles for furnishings and dress, ceramics, furniture and small objects for the home. At the heart of the show will be The Courtauld’s unique holding of decorative arts, paintings and designs from the Omega Workshops.