The Early Years

The first gallery tells the story of John’s childhood and family background, and his life-changing encounter with Joséphine in Paris. For 2013 there we will be a display of information from the Museum's archive on the building of the Museum. 

Portrait of Joséphine Bowes (1825-1874), Antoine Dury (1819- c. 1877) French, oil on canvas, 1850

In this portrait, Joséphine Bowes sits at a table on which rest several plays in which she appeared at the Théâtre des Variétés under her stage name Mademoiselle Delorme, Her dog, Bernardine, lies at her feet

Portrait of John Bowes (1811-1885), by Jacques-Eugene Feyen (1815-1908) French, oil on canvas, 1863

 John Bowes is seated in front of a stone wall, holding a shot-gun with dead game to his left and a dog lying at his feet. Streatlam Castle, his ancestral home, is visible in the distance.

Silver Trowel used by Joséphine to lay The Bowes Museum Foundation stone

Silver and Ivory trowel with which Joséphine Bowes laid the foundation stone of The Bowes Museum.

The trowel is engraved with a border of interlocking flower heads and inscribed:

“On Saturday the Twenty Seventh of November, Anno Domini 1869. This trowel was used Joséphine Benoite, Countess of Montalbo, wife of John Bowes of Streatlam Castle Esq’re of Newcastle upon Tyne.”