Bowes Museum: St Augustine appearing to prevent a Plague of Locusts

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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.

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Bowes Museum: Perseus and Andromeda

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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.

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Bowes Museum: Ship in Stormy Sea

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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.

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Bowes Museum: View at Montfort I’Amanry

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The above oil on panel is the work of the 19th century French landscape painter Adrien Dauzats. Born in Bordeaux, Dauzats began his career as a theatrical scene painter and designer of lithographic illustrations. The painting is of a town in Seine et Oise and depicts one of the sloping streets that surround the 15th century Gothic church.

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Bowes Museum: Allegory of Innocence and Guile

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The above oil on panel is the work of the 16th century Dutch portrait and religious painter Maerten van Heemskerck. Studying in the school of Jan van Scorel, Van Heemskerck worked in Italy where he studied the Renaissance masters. He returned to his native country in 1535 where he continued to paint in the Italian style. The subject of this painting is a personification of a verse from the Gospel of St Matthew (10:16) and depicts a young woman richly dressed. Such subjects were painted for public buildings, such as courts, as a reminder of standards expected from people in high office.

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Bowes Museum: Souvenir of Fecamp

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The above oil on canvas is the work of the 19th century French landscape and maritime painter Jules Achille Noel. Dating to 1855-1860, the dramatic painting depicts a fishing village clustered around its church in the background with fishermen in the foreground struggling against the waves to push a boat out to sea. Although Noel painted numerous scenes from the Breton and Normandy coasts, the scene depicted does not resemble Fecamp and the true location has not been identified.

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Bowes Museum: Rudolph II

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The above oil on panel is the work of the 16th century Spanish court painter Juan Pantoja de la Cruz. The painting is believed to be one of a series of portraits commissioned by Philip III to replace those lost in the fire that destroyed the gallery of portraits in the Palace of El Pardo in 1604. Cruz copied existing portraits of the King’s ancestors and relatives and the sitter in this painting has been identified as either Rudolph II or Charles I of Spain.

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