We are currently preparing an exhibition about The Bowes Museum to go on display across the border in Yorkshire, at Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn this summer. Tennants have recently had a large extension built and the magnificent Garden Rooms have a series of brand new museum display cases which is where our exhibitions will be. The first case will tell the story of Joséphine Bowes in Paris and will have a number of items of furniture from their French homes, the château du Barry at Louveciennes and their large Paris townhouse at 7 rue de Berlin.
The Bowes’ were typical followers of French Second Empire fashion and they owned an important collection of Second Empire furniture. The period is characterised by a revival and mixing of historical styles, and the exhibition will include a number of upholstered chairs and ceramics which were bought for the Bowes by the fashionable Parisian firm of Monbro fils âiné. The firm predominantly supplied modern and antique pieces and acted as agents for the couple, hanging curtains, making and checking inventories, covering furniture when the Bowes’ were away and hiring chairs, crockery and cutlery for parties.
The second case will tell the story of the formation of the collection and will display a variety of objects from across the collections which were bought by the Bowes’ to be included in the Museum when it first opened in 1892.
We have been preparing the objects for display in the last few weeks and will be packing them for transport throughout the rest of June. Last week, with the assistance of members of the conservation team, I helped clean, condition check and pack a 16th century veneered cabinet which will be on display in the second case.
The exhibition will be on display at Tennants from the beginning of July to the beginning of September, so be sure to check it out if you’re nearby. There is also a series of talks beginning with Dr Howard Coutts (Keeper of Ceramics) who will be talking at The Garden Rooms on the subject, ‘The Development of The Bowes Museum: History and Collections’ on 16th July, at 2.00pm. The talk will be followed by tea and scones. Tickets are £20 and are available from The Garden Rooms reception on 01969 621146.
By Becky Knott, York University Intern