The Bowes Museum contains a comprehensive collection of European fine and decorative arts for the period 1500-1900, including about 1500 paintings (including works by Sassetta, El Greco, Goya, Boucher, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Boudin, Courbet, Reynolds and Gainsborough), a very extensive collection of ceramics, including items from most European factories, with special strengths in the French ‘soft-paste’ factories of Chantilly, Sèvres and Saint Cloud, as well as the Lady Ludlow collection of English porcelain given by the Art Fund in 2004; early glass by Emile Gallé; French 18th and 19th century furniture from the Bowes’ own homes in France; and a very wide range of costume and textiles up to the present day, including the Blackborne collection of lace. In addition, there are extensive collections of local history, formed mostly in the 20th century. The most famous item is perhaps the life-size silver swan automaton, made in London in about 1773 by James Cox.
Potential loan exhibitions include The European Landscape 1500-1900 and French Art in the age of the Napoleons [I and III] 1800-1870.
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