Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Wednesday 1st December - Josephine Bowes, Countess of Montalbo

 Lawks, it's Blogvent once more! How time flies when exactly the same thing seems to happen over and over again and here we are possibly on the edge of another lock-down. Sigh. Excuse me being especially gloomy today because I tested positive for Covid-19 this morning and feel revolting, but what better way to blow away the misery than with Blogvent? This year I was wondering what subject to choose and my lovely daughter suggested a subject very close to our hearts...

This is our beloved mongrel Blossom, who has been our warm and snugly companion over the last 9 years and has done sterling work keeping the Walker family spirits up since the pandemic hit. You might remember from this post that we adopted our smashing pup and I thoroughly stand by the mantra that a dog is not just for Christmas but for life.  However, this year dogs are definitely for Blogvent, so let's kick off with this one...

Josephine Bowes, Countess of Montalbo (1850) Antoine Dury

What a glorious picture of a very glamorous lady. Mrs Bowes was married to John Bowes, and together they founded the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, but before that she was an actress in a Parisian theatre owned by Mr Bowes.  Interestingly, this painting seems to predate her marriage, so at the time she was simple Miss Coffin-Chevallier, or in fact Mademoiselle Delorme (her stage name).  She became the Countess of Montalbo in 1868, so the coat of arms and that part of the title were also later additions, much like her respectable married name.  However, we should concentrate on the most important part of the picture...


This is Bernadine, very classy Parisian Golden Labrador and the star of the show. She is lounging under a very lovely Boulle table on a rather elegant rug and is obviously a very good dog indeed. She was such a good dog that she appeared in a second painting all on her own...

Bernadine (1850) Antoine Dury

There is a marvellous post on the conservation of this painting on the Bowes Museum blog. There is a lot going on in the picture - Bernadine is seen to have slipped her chain and is reclining, as glamorous as her mistress but with a very mournful expression.  She has absolutely no reason to be glum as she is now recognised by the Kennel Club of Great Britain to be one of the first of her breed! What a very special dog indeed. I do wonder what happened to Bernadine and whether she made it all the way from Paris to Barnard's Castle, where her portrait was displayed in Mrs Bowes' bedroom.  The fact that Bernadine's name is carved into a stone behind her makes me worry this is a painting is memory of her. Actually, Mrs Bowes sounds like she rivalled Rossetti for her animal collection, with jackdaws, dogs, blackbirds and Clara the Rhino.  For goodness sake.

Anyway, for today the painting will be renamed Bernadine (and some French woman who lived with her) (1850) by Antoine Dury, and I shall see you tomorrow for some more dog-related Christmas joy.

Hurrah for Dogvent!

1 comment:

  1. Yay, Blogvent has returned! Here's to lots of lovely images.
    I hope you feel better soon.
    Best wishes


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx