Bowes raises £2.3m to save 15c painting

The Bowes Museum has raised the £2,290,650 needed to save this rare 15th century ascribed to the workshop of Dieric Bouts the Elder, St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, from export. It will be shared with York Art Gallery and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.


The picture, a rare example in this country of early Netherlandish painting, has been the subject of an export stop by the DCMS and the asking price has been raised through grants from the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donors.


“During the 15th century Netherlandish paintings were admired all over Europe for their visual sophistication, imagination and invention, and those by Bouts and his workshop were no exception” said Adrian Jenkins, Director of The Bowes Museum. “This work exhibits all of those characteristics and we are extremely pleased to have secured its long term future in the UK.”


The patterned tiles lead the viewer’s eye through the composition, to the colonnade and landscape beyond. The face of St. Luke, which portrays both age and character, displays the key characteristics associated with Bouts’ portraiture. The expensive damask cloth of honour is exquisitely rendered, as are the tiled floor and marble columns. The detailed landscape beyond the colonnade, showing a walled town receding into a mountainous horizon, demonstrates why Bouts is viewed as one of the most important early Netherlandish landscape painters.


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