The Bowes Museum is perhaps best known for its extensive and comprehensive collection of European paintings which span from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The collection is wide ranging, covering a variety of schools and styles in a way unparalleled outside the National collections in London and Edinburgh.
John Bowes purchased more than 50 paintings before he married Joséphine and conceived the idea of opening a museum. Following their marriage in 1852 John and Joséphine collected paintings which formed part of the furnishings of their house on the rue de Berlin in Paris and their country home at Louveciennes. From the 1860s they acquired works in greater numbers for the collection of their proposed museum.
The newly refurbished picture galleries display highlights from the paintings collection in three rooms which are laid out roughly in chronological order. The height of the panelling has been raised in each gallery and loosely mirrors the dense display that was adopted when the museum first opened its doors in 1892. The display allows for more paintings to be exhibited, whilst each gallery benefits from a new energy-efficient lighting system and labelling scheme.
15th and 16th Century Gallery
17th and 18th Century Gallery (360° tour of the Main Picture Gallery)
19th Century Gallery