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Joséphine Coffin-Chevallier met John Bowes in 1847 in Paris. Together, they were to found the Bowes Museum, and this painting, even though made well before the museum took shape, shows the young woman with all the appearance of a benefactress. This portrait shows her at the age of 25, in her Paris home, with her dog Bernardine. She leans on a fashionable Boulle table, and a Boulle bookcase can be seen in the background. On the table rest the text of several plays in which Joséphine appeared when an actress at the Théâtre des Variétés on the Boulevard Montmartre in Paris, under the stage name Mademoiselle Delorme. John Bowes was the owner of this theatre, which he had purchased in 1847. Joséphine became John's mistress and they were married in 1852.
Joséphine Bowes (1825–1874), Countess of Montalbo
oil on canvas
H 195.8 x W 127.9 cm
bequeathed by the Founders, 1885