Outstanding Treasures

22 of The Bowes Museum's most prized possessions

By The Bowes Museum

The Silver Swan (1773/1773) by the workshop of James Cox of LondonThe Bowes Museum

Our 18th century silver swan automaton is one of our most loved objects, and for conservation purposes is only played once a day.

The Tears of St. Peter (1580/1589) by Domenikos Theotokopoulos El GrecoThe Bowes Museum

According to Luke’s Gospel, Peter denied Jesus on the night before his death, thus fulfilling his prophecy. When Peter heard the cock crow after his betrayal, he 'went out and wept bitterly'.This painting is one of several El Greco painted of this subject

Prison Interior (1793/1794) by Francisco GoyaThe Bowes Museum

This painting is a restrained but effective indictment of man, a theme to which Goya repeatedly returned. It belongs to a series of twelve ‘cabinet’ pictures that Goya painted on tinplate between 1793 & 1794.

Mouse Automaton (1805/1815) by unknownThe Bowes Museum

Measuring a mere 11cm in length, including its tail, this mouse is made of gold with seed pearl decorations all over its body and garnet eyes. It was purchased by Joséphine Bowes in London in 1871.

A Miracle of the Eucharist (1423/1426) by Stefano di Giovanni SassettaThe Bowes Museum

The scene shows a lay brother of the Carmelite order being struck dead as he receives the Holy Communion. The painting is one of a group created for the base of an altarpiece, known as a predella; the companion paintings are now scattered throughout the world.

Monk Hesleden Carved Relief (1400/1449) by unknownThe Bowes Museum

'The Harrowing of Hell' is an incomplete section of a 15th century carved altar screen showing scenes of 'The Passion and Death of Christ'. It was from a church (now demolished) at Monk Hesleden.

Lady Mary Eleanor Bowes' Botanical Cabinet (1775/1785) by Artist unknownThe Bowes Museum

Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and grandmother of John Bowes, was a keen collector of plants; this cabinet was made to house her collection.

Sappho, Ancient Greek writer of lyric poetry (1848/1848) by James PradierThe Bowes Museum

Silver figure of Sappho by James Pradier, signed and dated 1848, from the Simonette foundry.

Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1700/1700) by Francesco TrevisaniThe Bowes Museum

This is a portrait of Trevisani's leading patron, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667-1740), the great nephew of Pope Alexander VII and a leading light of the Academy of Arcadia, an organisation devoted to the reform of painting, theatre, poetry & music.

Marquetry panel, c1690 mounted in an English cabinet, c1780 (1685/1695) by Andre-Charles Boulle and Mayhew & InceThe Bowes Museum

This panel, made from ebony and exotic woods on an oak carcass, is of exceptional quality. It was acquired by the 1st Earl of Warwick who brought it to England and had it made into a cabinet; this work is attributed to Mayhew and Ince, London cabinet makers.

Piercebridge Head Pot (unknown) by unknownThe Bowes Museum

Found in Piercebridge, this is typical of Roman pottery, some of these containers held ashes from cremations. It has been partially reconstructed.

Wide needle lace border from a window drape (1595/1605) by unknownThe Bowes Museum

This style of separate collar was known as a falling or cloak band in the 17th century, as it spread widely over the shoulders. It is best known from the male portraits of Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) and is said to have belonged to Charles I.

Eugenie's bodice (1850/1855) by unknownThe Bowes Museum

This bodice belonged to Empress Eugénie and consists of shadow printed silk with about eight colours and shades of white, blue and pink flowers.

The Bucintoro returning to the Molo on Ascension Day after the Ceremony of Wedding the Adriatic (1730/1735) by Giovanni Antonio Canal CanalettoThe Bowes Museum

These two paintings are amongst Canalettos’s largest and finest works. They show public events on the Canal; the first shows the Doge’s barge, the Bucintoro or Bucintaur, after the imaginary wedding to the sea, in which the Doge tosses a wedding ring into the Adriatic Sea.

Panelling from Chesterfield House (1740/1749) by Isaac WareThe Bowes Museum

This panelling is part of a room which was originally known as the Ante- Room or ‘French room’ at Chesterfield House, London. It represents one of the earliest examples of the Rococo style in England.

Lady's Writing Table (1760/1770) by Martin CarlinThe Bowes Museum

Clock Case, Chelsea, 1760-65 (1760/1765) by Chelsea PorceleinThe Bowes Museum

This clock is in soft-paste porcelain, of cube-shape with four raised rococo feet, moulded with pierced scrolls on the corners and pierced rococo side panels.

Fashion Doll (1840/1850) by unknownThe Bowes Museum

This exquisite doll is made of carved and painted wood with glass eyes, jointed arms and legs and beautifully painted features.

Bed (1845/1855) by Artist unknownThe Bowes Museum

Joséphine's bed is carved out of gilt wood with a separate canopy, and is known as 'lit à la duchesse'.

Decanter and Stopper, 1872 (1870/1874) by Emile GalleThe Bowes Museum

Snow Scene by Joséphine Bowes (1844/1874) by Josephine BowesThe Bowes Museum

Joséphine Bowes, wife of John Bowes and co-founder of The Bowes Museum, was a highly competent amateur painter. She painted in the Realist style and her work was accepted on several occasions for exhibition in the Paris Salon.

Fruit and Flowers (1866/1866) by Henri Fantin-LatourThe Bowes Museum

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