Image and Subtance: St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child
Image and Subtance: St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child

Image and Subtance: St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child

The Bowes Museum is delighted to announce the opening of an in-focus display which celebrates the acquisition of a rare and outstanding painting.


The display, which opens on Saturday 12 November 2016, acts as both a welcome and an introduction to St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, an exceptional 15th century painting attributed to the workshop of Dieric Bouts the Elder. This follows a scientific investigation project led by the Conservation department at the National Gallery in London.


The painting is of major importance due to its connection with the artist, deemed one of    the leading and most influential Netherlandish painters of his time. Dieric Bouts the Elder is in fact considered, together with Hans Memling, the most important follower of Rogier van der Weyden.



Bouts’ works are rare in general and especially in the UK. In addition, there are no other paintings of this date and origin depicting this important subject in British public collections by Bouts or any other northern European artist of this period.



Following an export bar it was acquired in July 2016 with support from Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and a number of private donors, totalling £2,290,650. The Bowes Museum is embarking on an innovative partnership with York Art Gallery and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, each with their own excellent Old Master collections, to deliver a diverse and exciting activity programme surrounding the painting which is included in the above sum.



Image and Substance’ focuses on the iconographic and visual relevance of the painting, offering an insight into the Netherlands’ artistic, historical, and devotional context. At the same time, it will also examine the painting’s technique and style, and will be complemented by video footage of the National Gallery’s investigations.


Bernadette Petti, Assistant Keeper of Fine Art at The Bowes Museum, said: “This was a popular devotional subject during the Renaissance, especially in the Netherlands, based on the legend of the apostle and evangelist St Luke depicting the Virgin with the Christ Child. However, this outstanding painting is not only a significant 15th century Netherlandish devotional and art historical subject, it also reveals important insights on the workshop practice and the changing status of the artist at that time.”


“More than five hundred years after its production, this painting preserves intact the superb quality of pure and saturated colour nuances that give depth and translucency to the different textures,” she added. “This painting will have a significant place in the collection of The Bowes Museum, and it will represent a major addition to the extraordinary cultural heritage of the region: its great interest and European importance will enhance future opportunities for the research community to investigate late medieval and early modern European culture, considering also the social and cultural interactions between the cities of the North East and the Low Countries during the Middle Ages. In addition, it will inspire the regional audience and the wider cultural tourism.” 


The display opens on Saturday 12 November and runs until Sunday 8 January 2017.

Categories: News

The Bowes Museum is closed!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Caf� Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

Do please remember, however, that the Museum�s park and grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 � 4.00 daily, and that we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, clues can be found here.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.