Bowes Museum braced for influx of art fans after "hidden painting" turns out to be 17th century van Dyck masterpiece (From The Northern Echo)
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Bowes Museum braced for influx of art fans after "hidden painting" turns out to be 17th century van Dyck masterpiece
STAFF at a County Durham museum are bracing themselves for an influx of art enthusiasts after a “hidden painting” was revealed to be a 17th century masterpiece.
The story behind Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter, which was bought by John and Josephine Bowes in 1866 for their purpose-built museum at Barnard Castle, was told by BBC2's Culture Show.
Having been overlooked due to its poor condition, the painting was kept in the museum's picture store.
However, after being examined closely by a number of experts, it turned out to be a previously unknown work by Flemish Baroque artist Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) – the leading court artist of his day.
Originally thought to be a portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, the subject turned out to be the queen's lady-in-waiting Olive Boteler Porter.
The painting has been restored and has now gone on public view.
Since the BBC programme was broadcast on Saturday, Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter – and The Bowes Museum – have made headlines at home and abroad, to the delight of officials.
Adrian Jenkins, director of The Bowes Museum, said: “We are really pleased with the way the programme showcased the museum and explained the fascinating and exciting process of identifying the painting as being the work of van Dyck himself.”
He added: “The programme has definitely generated interest in the museum.
“We have received a huge number of enquiries about the painting and have already had visitors coming specifically to see it on display.
“Whilst the museum is famous for its collection of European art, the addition of a van Dyck to our collection, which already includes work by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Turner, increases the importance of its British art collection.”
Mr Jenkins said he hoped the museum's appearance on the Culture Show would help raise its profile outside the North-East and increase awareness of its collection and galleries to a wider audience.
The museum's principal keeper, Jane Whittaker, added: “We were delighted to welcome the Culture Show to the museum and equally delighted with the outcome of the research.”
- Read the full story of how experts determined the painting was a genuine van Dyck in The Northern Echo later this week.
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