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 looking forward to welcoming you on the 17 May

Staff have been busy behind the Museum’s closed doors getting everything ready to welcome visitors back safely.

Café Bowes has undergone a refurbishment and has a new menu waiting to be sampled, the Museum has been deep cleaned, new signage is in place reminding you to adhere to social distancing, hand sanitisation stations have been refilled, the shop has been restocked and staff are being trained ready to greet you back in a safe and timely manner.

North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions is now hanging in the main exhibition gallery ready to wow visitors through to January 2022 and, due to social distancing measures, entry to the display will be by a separate timed exhibition entrance ticket that needs to be booked, at no extra cost, before visiting. Song has also been reinstated in the Music Room so people can enjoy the sound of the instruments. A varied programme of activity is being planned throughout May and June which we hope you will participate in.

Entry to the Museum will be by timed slots and tickets will have to be pre-booked online here or by calling 01833 690606. The Museum will be open from 10.00 to 5.00 daily. Masks will need to be worn throughout the Museum, shop and café, except when eating or where exemptions apply.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon!