The concept of the ‘English Rose’ will be celebrated in a major new exhibition opening at The Bowes Museum next month.
The catalyst for The English Rose – Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent – is a portrait recently acquired by the Museum via Arts Council England, in lieu of inheritance tax from the estate of the Duke of Northumberland.
Olivia, Mrs Endymion Porter, by court painter Van Dyck, was painted c1637, when the artist was at the height of his career.
One of his finest female portraits, it depicts Mrs Porter, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria (whose portrait also features in the show) in shift and pearls, displaying the ‘careless romance’ that is evident in many of Van Dyck’s images.
Whilst this is an intimate domestic portrait commissioned by her husband, it also demonstrates his wealth, status and prestige by the fact that he could afford to engage the King’s painter.
Adrian Jenkins, Director of The Bowes Museum, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the gift of this wonderful Van Dyck portrait, which will be central to our forthcoming exhibition.
“We also thank the Arts Council for their decision to retain this important painting in the North of England, where it will enhance The Bowes Museum’s permanent collection.”
The English Rose – Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent, runs from Saturday 14 May until Sunday 25 September 2016.