A midnight-blue velvet evening jacket dating from 1937, by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, has been purchased for The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle with the aid of an Art Fund New Collecting Award.
The New Collecting Awards scheme was launched in 2014 by Art Fund, the national charity for art, with the aim of encouraging ‘early career’ curators to acquire objects that will progress their museum’s collection while continuing their own professional development.
Following the scheme’s launch Hannah Jackson, The Bowes Museum’s Fashion and Textile Curatorial Assistant, was awarded a grant of £60,000 to invest in a capsule wardrobe of French haute couture in homage to the Museum’s co-founder and Frenchwoman, Joséphine Bowes.
“We know that Joséphine was a collector, a patron of the arts, a society hostess, an actress, a painter and a devotee to fashion,” said Hannah. “She was among the many fashionable women who bought her clothes from Maison Worth on rue de la Paix Paris, aligning herself with figures such as the Empress Eugénie.
“From bills in the Museum archive, we know that in March 1869 Joséphine celebrated her fête-day by buying seven dresses from Worth, spending £234 (equivalent to around £11,000 in today’s money).
So far the New Collecting Award has enabled Hannah to travel to Paris and London for research purposes and to meet with her appointed mentor, Judith Clark, Professor at London College of Fashion. She visited archives in Paris, including the Palais Galliera and Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, and also attended auctions in Paris and London.
As part of the project she attended a week long international training course at the V&A in London entitled Curating Fashion and Dress, which extended her network of professionals in the field and offered her an insight into the V&A’s approach and ethos of collecting and presenting dress.
“Looking toward the future, the course has created an international network of peers working in my field of expertise across the world, which is something we can utilise here at The Bowes Museum,” said Hannah.
Following her in-depth research she has now acquired her first piece of couture for the Museum collection, a midnight-blue fitted velvet evening jacket, created by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli for her autumn/winter 1937-8 collection. The jacket is richly embroidered by Lesage, with gilt strip and cord, sequins, rhinestones and three large turquoise star shaped buttons. The jacket was purchased from Kerry Taylor’s Passion for Fashion Auction in London.
By May 2017, Hannah aims to have acquired a capsule collection of French haute couture which will reinforce the unique identity of The Bowes Museum’s fashion collection.
“Moving forward and beyond the project, our department aims to focus its collecting in a more French direction, in order to reflect the core history of the Museum and its co-founder Joséphine Bowes, whose life will be reflected in a forthcoming exhibition – Celebrating the Life and World of Joséphine Bowes: A Parisian Woman and her Legacy, The Bowes Museum - as we celebrate the Museum’s 125th anniversary,” she added.
Joanna Hashagen, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at The Bowes Museum, said: “I am delighted with Hannah’s choice - this is a very exciting new acquisition for our fashion collection.”
Joanna has recently contributed to a new publication on the presentation of dress in museums, Refashioning and Redress, Conserving and Displaying Dress edited by Mary M. Brooks and Dinah D. Eastop, published by Yale University Press, in which she discusses the complex, collaborative process that resulted in the new gallery at The Bowes. The book features the evening dress by Schiaparelli from The Bowes Museum collection, which is currently on show in the Fashion & Textile Gallery.
Notes to editors:
· 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 Arts Council England.
· The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, 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.
· 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
About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by the V&A, London, in 2016) and a range of digital platforms.
Find out more about Art Fund, the New Collecting Awards and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org
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