Dating to between 1840-1867, the above oil on canvas painting is the work of the 19th century French maritime and landscape painter Jules Achille Noel. The stormy scene depicts a raging sea crashing against the harbour wall.
The Bowes family arrived in Teesdale following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The family were at the forefront of mining and transport from the 17th century and spent their money on horses, the arts, gardening and country house building. John Bowes was born in 1811 and was the illegitimate, but fully acknowledged, son of the tenth Earl. His mother, Mary Millner, lived with the Earl and they were married just sixteen hours before the death of the Earl in an attempt to enable the nine year old boy to inherit.
John married the actress Mademoiselle Delorme (Benoite-Josephine Coffin-Chevallier) in 1852 and between 1864 and 1870, they acquired the land for the museum park. The idea for the museum was Josephine’s and following the sale of chateau du Barry, she started to purchase objects for display.
The Bowes Museum was built between 1869-1885 by John Edward Watson of Newcastle upon Tyne. The building was the first in Great Britain to be designed in metric and was designed by French architect Jules Pellechet. The symmetrical facade is dominated by pedimented windows and paired engaged pilasters and columns. The impressive entrance leads through iron doors, that were made in Paris, to a spacious hall with balustrade balcony.
Having laid the foundation stone in 1869, Josephine died in 1874 and never saw the building completed. John continued to make few purchases but concentrated his efforts on completing the museum building. He saw the completion of the building but died in 1885 leaving trustees to finish the project. The Bowes Museum formally opened on 10th June 1892.
John and Josephine envisaged a museum dedicated to European fine and decorative arts from the Middle Ages into their own time. From 1861, they employed the art dealer Benjamin Gogue to identify acquisitions. John and Josephine’s taste followed contemporary fashion and were inspired by styles of the past. Much of the furniture acquired by the Bowes is mainly European and dates from the 15th century.
The furniture that survives at the museum is a collection of French Second Empire that is displayed in room settings that present the personal story of the life that John and Josephine had in France.
The centre of the building features a balustraded balcony which is adorned with columns of grey Aberdeen and pink Peterhead granite.
The collections of porcelain and pottery come from many European countries and date from the 16th to 19th centuries. The Bowes Museum is Grade I Listed.
The above marble sculpture dates to circa 1863 and is a copy of The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Also known as the Nike of Samothrace, it was discovered in 1863 on the Greek island of Samothrace by the French consul and amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau. The original statue is thought to have been created between 100 and 300 BC to honour Nike, the goddess of victory and messenger of Zeus and Athena. Considered to be one of the finest examples of Hellenistic period sculpture, the goddess is depicted descending from the skies with extended wings. A plaster replica now stands in the museum at the original location of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace.
Dating to circa 1855, the above French sculpture depicts a sleeping child on an oval draped marble base. The white marble child lies partially on his right side with his head and chest raised by the base. Similarly, the white marble child below also dates to circa 1855. The sleeping child lies on a draped bed with the head resting on a tasselled pillow. The right hand rests on the chest with the thumb holding a cord from which a crucifix is suspended.
The above marble bust dates to circa 1810 and depicts Pauline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon. Attributed to P.Jurany, Pauline is depicted with her hair braided in the classical style that was typical of the early nineteenth century. The Regency style in England and the First Empire style in France exchanged many design ideas based around classical and ancient Egyptian decoration.
The above bronze bust dates to circa 1820 and is the work of the French sculptor Baron Francois Joseph Bosio. The bust depicts Louis XVIII who was born in 1755 and was the fourth son of the dauphin Louis, the son of Louis XV. He was king of France by title from 1795 and following his death in 1824, he was succeeded by his brother, the comte d’Artois, as Charles X.
The above oil on canvas painting is the work of the 19th century French marine artist Baron Jean Antoine Théodore Gudin. Having married the Hon. Margaret-Louis Hay, Gudin spent a considerable amount of time in Scotland, particularly at Dunrobin Castle and Seaton, with his wife’s relatives. The painting depicts the treacherous headland to the south of Aberdeen Harbour known as Girdle Ness.
The above oil sketch in grisaille (monochrome) dates to 1734 and is thought likely to be related to a painting of the same subject, which is now in the Prado in Milan, by the 18th century Spanish artist Miguel Jacinto Menendez. The painting in the Prado is also a preparatory study for a lost work which was painted for the transept of the church of San Felipe el Real in Madrid. The above sketch represents a miracle that happened in 1268 when a plague of locusts threatened to destroy crops around Toledo. The prayers of the archbishop and his flock were answered when St Augustine appeared and drove the locusts to their death in the river Tajo. Menendez became an official painter to Philip V, the first Bourbon king of Spain, in 1712 and produced a large number of royal portraits and religious compositions.
The above oil on panel is dated 1720 and is the work of the 18th century Dutch artist Hendrik Jacob Hoet. Depicting a mythological scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Andromeda appears half naked and shackled to the rocks by the sea. The skull and bones in the foreground of the painting represent her fate while Perseus rides the winged horse Pegasus wielding a sword to rescue her.
The above oil on panel is the work of the 19th century French maritime painter Jean-Baptiste Henri Durand-Brager. Dating to between 1838-1867, the scene depicts the struggle of a ship braving a stormy sea. It is highly likely that Durand-Brager would have witnessed such a scene having travelled to the Atlantic coast of Africa as part of the expedition to return Napoleon’s remains from the island of St Helena in 1840.