The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2016 > Image and Substance: St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child

Image and Substance: St Luke Drawing The Virgin And Child


12 November 2016 – 8 January 2017

This in-focus display celebrates the acquisition of a rare and outstanding painting.  

The display, 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. 

Related Events


Latest Acquisition Talk
3 December, 10.00 - 12.00 (talk at 11.15), free and open to all ages. Refreshments available
Join Assistant Curator of Fine Art Bernadette Petti at St Mary’s Parish Church in Barnard Castle for a short talk about the Museum’s latest acquisition. Followed by an opportunity for all who wish to make an artistic response to the picture, helped by the Museums’ outreach team. No competition or pressure, just the chance for some fun!

Gallery Talk
8 December, 2.15

Join Assistant Curator of Fine Art, Bernadette Petti, to learn more about this rare and fascinating painting, which has been saved for the nation, and other associated artworks in this special display.

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!