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Press Releases > Painting revealed as authentic work by van Dyck
A work of art from The Bowes Museum’s collection has been revealed on national television as an authentic painting by the artist Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), a 17th century Flemish Baroque artist who was the leading court painter of his day.
The story behind Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter, purchased by The Bowes Museum’s founders, John & Joséphine Bowes in 1866, was broadcast on the flagship BBC2 programme, the Culture Show, on Saturday (9th March).
The painting – an oil on canvas – has been in the collection since the building opened to the public in 1892. Its sophisticated drapery, colouring and facial expression are typical of Van Dyck’s female portraits of the 1630s, although they were overlooked due to the painting’s poor condition, leading to it being recorded in the Museum’s files as, ‘School of Van Dyck’.
However, thanks to the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC Your Paintings comprehensive photographic record - which has recorded the ‘hidden paintings’ in collections of museums and other public buildings across the country – The portrait came to the attention of Dr. Bendor Grosvenor when he was carrying out research for an exhibition in the PCF catalogue (which the Your Paintings website has now put online).
The painting was originally thought to be a portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, but later research identified the sitter as the queen’s lady-in-waiting, Olive Boteler Porter, the wife of Van Dyck’s friend and patron Endymion Porter. While in England, Van Dyck painted a number of portraits of different members of the family. Olive was the daughter of Sir John Boteler and Elizabeth Villiers, niece of the Duke of Buckingham. The red carnation in her hair might be an heraldic motif, since it appears in other images of female members of the Villiers family.
“A sympathetic programme of conservation has removed the disfiguring varnish layers, revealing the tonal subtleties of the sitter’s skin and her white satin dress, together with the quality of the drawing,” said the Museum’s Principal Keeper, Jane Whittaker. “The painting has now been examined by a number of Van Dyck scholars who agree that a previously unknown work by this artist has been hiding in the Museum’s picture store.
“We were delighted to welcome the Culture Show to The Bowes Museum, and equally delighted with the outcome of the research,” she added.
The restored painting has now gone on show to the public. The Museum will receive further television coverage later this year when a documentary about automata is aired on BBC4 in early summer, featuring the unique, life-size Silver Swan musical automaton.
For press images of the van Dyck painting or more information, please contact Sheila Dixon, Media and PR Officer 01833 694616 / email@example.com
The Bowes Museum, Café Bowes and Shop are open daily from 10.00. A full programme of events and exhibitions is available by calling 01833 690606 or by viewing the website at www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk.
• The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes. Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in. The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods.
• The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum, receives support from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through the Arts Council England’s Renaissance programme. Additional revenue funding specifically for the Museum’s acclaimed exhibition programme is provided by The John Ellerman Foundation and The Friends of The Bowes Museum.
• The Bowes Museum has recently undergone major redevelopment. This work was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.
• Normal admission to the museum: Adults £9.00, Concessions £8.00, Six Month Pass £12.00, Children Free (under 16s). Admission allows access to all exhibitions, permanent displays and some events. Admissions are donation inclusive and are eligible for Gift Aid. If you do not wish to make a charitable donation admission prices are: Adults £8.15, Concessions £7.25, Six Month Pass £10.00, Children (under 16) and carers free.
• The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 0191 301 8531, www.discoverdurham.co.uk